Monthly Archives: August 2009


Chile by Air (and coolest job in the world)

This gallery contains 11 photos.

I love my job. For me, it just doesn’t get better than this–a day’s work that includes flying over the mountains, through the valley, out over the sea and back again for a day of wine tasting in the Colchagua Valley, with good food and great company to boot! Check out the view! Continue reading


A Cazuela Kind of Day

Some days are just made for comfort food, and for me, when in Chile, that means cazuela… That steaming bowl of colorful vegetables, meat, and broth that’s just perfect for a gray and dreary mid-winter Sunday, like today.

Cazuela de ave, french fries with hot sauce, vegetarian sandwich at Lomit's

Cazuela de ave, french fries with hot sauce, vegetarian sandwich at Lomit's

Eileen at Bearshapedsphere got me thinking about comfort food this morning when she declared it a perfect day for arroz con leche (Chilean style rice pudding). I agreed. This was a comfort food kind of day, and then I remembered the Liz Caskey’s recent post on comfort food from “home-home” vs. comfort food from our adopted home. She’s right too. Somewhere along the way, my list of comfort foods has grown from typical gringo fare (macaroni and cheese, crispy oven-fried chicken, scalloped potatoes with pork chops, meat loaf and mashed potatoes, beef stew, hot roast beef sandwiches au jus, corned beef and cabbage, chicken noodle soup, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, grilled cheese on rye with dill pickles, a patty melt from the diner, spaghetti and meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, a big fat juicy burger on the grill, fried fish on Friday, corn on the cob, steamed clams dripping in butter, watermelon on the back porch… Arrgh! Make me stop! The list goes on—and has absolutely nothing to do with MacDonald’s—much to the disbelief of most Chilean’s I know, by the way! My list of comfort foods now includes such Chilean staples as costillar con pure picante (ribs with spicy mashed potatoes), plateada con puré picante (braised beef and okay, so I like the spicy spuds!), papas rellenas con queso (potatoes stuffed with cheese) and my all-time personal favorite: cazuela.

Cazulea (pronounced kah-SWAY-la), whether beef (cazuela de vacuno) or chicken (cazuela de ave), is part soup, part stew, and 100% pure heart-and-soul-warming goodness. Ask for a cazuela in Spain and you’ll end up with an empty casserole dish, but in Chile it’s the finished product that gets the attention. The ingredients are all familiar to the American table, although presented in their very Chilean way—almost always in steaming hot individual-serving dark brown Pomaire clay bowls. A whole potato (peeled), rice, french-cut green beans, a large chunk of squash (zapallo, often with the skin on), a 3” chunk of thick-kerneled corn on the cob, a hefty portion of beef (bone-in is best) or chicken in a rich broth and liberally dusted with fresh chopped parsley and/or cilantro. And on a gray winter day, all that color does wonders to drive the blues away!

This is a 3-utensil dish: fork, knife, and soup spoon required. Traditionalists insist that the steaming broth be slurped up first along with some hearty bread and spicy pebre (salsa). Then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get serious about downsizing—slicing, peeling, chunking, and savoring—the rest. There’s nothing dainty or bite-sized about this dish, and when Chileans think hearty, they mean it. This is some serious Chile-style down-home eatin’ … and if that ain’t comfort food, I don’t know what is!

Annje speaks Chilensis

Call it Spanglish, call it Spangli-shilean, call it Chilensis–what it is is the Spanish–excuse me–Castellano (I stand corrected!) that you hear on urban streets every day. It’s fast and fun and full of idiomatic expressions that no non-native-Chilensis-speaker could ever figure out on their own. I never dreamed that the recent post on the Rooster from the Glue would receive all the attention it has (see for yourself: Gringas die Laughing!), and I’ve been thrilled by all the response and contributions to the Glossary (which is going to take a while to get updated–now you know what I’LL be doing this weekend!)

Annje of (Annje Unabashed) is a frequent reader of Cachando Chile and she sent me her hilarious version of a little bad translation fun: Continue reading

Chilean Parliament Dukes it Out

**This post was updated on December 3, 2009 to include some brilliant outbreaks in other governmental settings around the world. Be sure to check them out at the end!

August 18, 2009
I had planned to write about the rain today. It only rains in the winter here, and Chileans get very nostalgic about it. I’ve even learned to understand and come to share that sensation, but I’ll tell you why another day. The spectacle on tonight’s evening news was just too delicious to let pass.

Although Chileans like to call themselves the Swiss or the English of South America and think of themselves as dignified, refined, and cultured, there are a few areas where all that hot-blooded Latino spirit churns passionately to the surface, most particularly in matters of love, sports (fútbol / soccer),  and politics.

Let’s set love and sports aside for the moment and get right down to politics. And no, I’m not talking about Pinochet and human rights… I’m talking about good old-fashioned, hot-headed pushing and shoving, name-calling and paper throwing on the floor of the Congreso. I’m talking about he-said-she-said… No, wait. This was all he-said-no-HE-said-wait-I can’t-believe-YOU-said politics to the whistles, jeers, cheers, and thunderous roars of coming-to-defense senators, who-do-you-think-you-are ministers, and dare-you-to-say-that-again parliamentarians going at it, take-that shoving the opposition and atta-boy-back-slapping amongst themselves (it IS an election year after all).

Right wing (UDI) Representative Gonzalo Arenas from the Araucanía Region in the south “subió el tono” with Christian Democrat (center) Minister of the Interior Edmundo Pérez Yoma over an indigenous (Mapuche) issue, along with accusations of “your party has been stealing…” and when the house leader called time, Arenas got up, stormed across the room, offered–and then “tossed”–a document onto the minister’s desk. Pérez Yoma heatedly flung it back, and Arenas fired it back again… boom-boom-boom… as several heads went down and hands went up to cover snickers as the place quickly whirled into a 20-minute pushing-shoving “compadre calm down” and “let me at ‘em” uproar of the kind that quickly finds its way to youtube stardom.

In fact, you can take a look here, at CNN Chile via youtube. (I haven’t found an English version yet, but the body language is so clear here that no language skills are necessary–or used, for that matter!).

Update on December 3, 2009:

It turns out that Chileans are not the only ones who get physical in parliament. Today all hell broke loose in a session of Argentina’s regional parliament, as shown on BBC News:

Lawmakers in Argentina throw chairs at each other (3 December 2009

And back tracking through other BBC links I found some real beauties, check out:

Fights in Bolivian parliament (August 2007)

South Korea MPs in mass brawl (August 2007)

And my personal favorite:

Czech politicians exchange blows (May 2006)

Gringas die laughing

I was just sitting here minding my own business when the phone rang the other day and a reporter announces that he had stumbled upon Cachando Chile and had tracked me down and wanted to know more about what was behind this whole Chilean Spanglish Rooster from the Glue, bad-translation fun with Chilenismos that was going on over here. He saw that gringa blogger Abby (see Abby’s Line) was involved as well as Canadian comedian Eileen Shea. Unfortunately Bearshapedsphere blogger Eileen Smith posted just a tad too late to be included in the article—it was LUN‘s loss, but you don’t have to miss out—go on over and check out her contribution too! Continue reading

Chilean Spanglish Spoken Here: A Rooster from the Glue

Spanglish is a funny language. Spend enough time here in Chile and you end up pretty fluent in the Chilean variant, which I call Spangli-shilean!! (Get it?) See? Right there you need to be on the inside track to cachar la onda

At our most recent Chilespouses dinner, our resident comedian Eileen Shea had the Spanglishilean speakers roaring with laughter—and many of the newcomers scratching their heads—with a story about a guy from work. Continue reading

Chilespouses, 9 years and going strong

Cathy Casanga, founder of Chilespouses

Cathy Casanga, founder of Chilespouses

I’m not the only expat blogger who has talked about the challenges of living so far from home, but I do have to say that many of us in Chile have a very special advantage. Nine years ago today Cathy Casanga, formerly of Seattle, founded a group that has become a lifeline for so many of us here.

Back in August of 2000, I got a call from Cathy asking if I would join a Yahoo Group she was setting up called “Chilespouses.” The idea was to have a space for native English-speaking women with Chilean husbands and a commitment to living in Chile to be in touch and share information. “I called the 6 people I knew at the time,” she says. Never did she ever dream what she was getting herself into. We now number more than 500!

The definition of the members has changed somewhat over the years: “native-English speaking” has become “English speaking but not necessarily as a first language” (we now have a number of members from other, mostly European, countries). And not all are married—the “husband” requirement has turned to “partner” and even “ex.”

What has remained solid, however, is the fact that we are all women (men have tried to join but we remain firm and feminine—ahem, let me rephrase that (some of us are not as “firm” as we used to be)—we are women only, we all have or have had Chilean partners (which creates a specific bonding point as we try to negotiate the rules of belonging to a Chilean family), and we are all foreigners with a long(ish)-term commitment to living and belonging in this country and culture. This is no place for tourists.

Chilespouse and jazz singer member Danielle Gilson performs at the dinner

Chilespouse and jazz singer member Danielle Gilson performs at the annual dinner

Other than that we are a widely diverse group. Some have been here “forever” (Barbee, congrats on 42 years!), and others are just off the boat (I know, nobody comes on a boat anymore, but “just off the plane” really misses that proverbial boat when it comes to making my point). We are of all ages and from all walks of life; we hail from many different places and embrace a variety of religious and political beliefs. Some are just starting their families, and others are seeing their grandchildren off to college. We are doctors and lawyers and nurses and writers and teachers and business women and secretaries and translators and historians and scientists and anthropologists and singers and comedians and journalists and  managers and engineers and computer whizzes and wine geeks and cooks and masseuses and moms and so much more, and when it comes right down to it, frankly, we’re one amazingly creative and  interesting bunch of women.


Chilespouse and comedian Eileen Shea shares her uniquely hysterical outlook on this funny world we live in

The Yahoo group allows us to ask for advice and share tips and opinions, spread information and warnings (and way too many virus hoaxes along with the occasional belly laugh). Every “where can I find…” or “how do I…” or “why does my mother-in-law…” or “Please help…” or “Be careful about…” gets an answer (often many), and the accumulated information we share is truly impressive. Looking for a job? A handyman? A maid? A lawyer? A doctor? A car? (selling a car?) A place to get married? You need to know something about skiing? Hiking? Traveling? Working? Buying? Selling? Looking for corn syrup, cranberries, or the perfect apple pie recipe? Need a good laugh? A shoulder to lean on? You’ve come to the right place.

We support each other in many ways, and the tips and advice that our Chilean friends get from their mothers and sisters and best friends from school get passed among the gringas through Chilespouses. Sub-groups form: “Who wants to start a play group for 3-year-olds?” “Lamaze, anyone?” “Up for a Thai cooking class?” “Menopause workshop?” “Happy hour on Monday?” “Chilespouses from Viña & Valpo” “Want a Japi Jane party?” (Yes, Jane is one of ours) and more.

Chilespouses is so many things to so many women, and through it all, we have one woman in particular to thank. Our founder, our friend, our lifeline… who is surely blushing and blustering as she reads this because it is most certainly her way…

She has done an enormous amount of work and an incredible job of keeping this group together for 9 years. “This is not about me,” she says over and over again. We know that Cathy… but it very much is because of you… This is just my way of saying Thank You Cathy, for being my friend, for being our friend, and for being the Queen of the ‘Spouses. (Do you still have the tiara and the magic wand we gave you after 5 years?)

150 gringas pack Zanzibar for the 9th annual Chilespouses dinner

150 gringas packed Zanzibar for the 9th annual Chilespouses dinner

Last night 150 gringas turned out for our annual dinner. We invaded Zanzibar in Borderío (owned in part by a Chilespouse, by the way—Thank you Linda and daughter Susie).

Thanks too, to the wonderful performers who entertained us last night. Chilespouse members all, comedian Eileen Shea, and singers Stefanie Block, Mia Praught Ossa, and Danielle Gilson.

And if you didn’t quite get all of Eileen’s story about they guy from work who’s wife had a baby, check out the latest version at:  Chilean Spanglish Spoken Here: A Rooster from the Glue.

Chilespouse singers Mia Ossa (left) and Stefanie Block (right)

Chilespouse singers Mia Praught Ossa (left) and Stefanie Block (right)