Category Archives: Typical Products

Cachivache & Cachantún: Antiques as bits of a life (Photo Essay)

I love antique shops–not that fancy, nose-in-the-air kind with all the fru-fru porcelain and don’t-touch crystal and wax-em-up furniture. No. I mean the little mom-and-pop corner shops with crazy assortments of real-folks stuff that was truly used by someone, somewhere, once upon a time.

Typewriter © Margaret Snook 2011

I mean the kind of shop that has all manner of stuff–the fabulous and the forlorn, the funky and the sublime, the valuable and the junk–all hodge-podged together in an inimitably haphazard arrangement that could never be repeated anywhere else. Continue reading


Chilean Olive Oil: a day on the job

A visit to the Olave organic olive groves and almazara (olive oil mill) prompted this photo essay on one of my favorite products: fresh Chilean olive oil.

Organic olives, Olave Farm, Melipilla, Chile. © 2011 Margaret Snook

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BYOTP in Chile

I suspect that anyone who has done any amount of traveling outside their comfort zone is familiar with the acronym “BYOTP.” For those who are not, let me spell it out for you, because if you’re a woman in Chile, this is going to become pretty important: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.

Confort toilet paperOf course this is an odd—less than delicate, shall we say—topic, but let’s face it, there are things that a traveler just needs to be forewarned about, and the whole idea behind Cachando Chile is to let you in on the things that no one else ever bothers to mention!

And since Eileen kicked it off today with her piece on “The Case of the Hot TP,” I figured it’s time to pass on a bit of advice for newbies that I’ve been planning to haul out at the right time… and it seems there’s no time like the present. Continue reading

Cola de Mono: Traditional Christmas drink

Cola de mono and Pan de Pascua

Cola de mono and Pan de Pascua

It’s not Christmas in Santiago without a frosty glass of Cola de Mono and a slice of pan de pascua Christmas bread.

Usa la herramienta de traducción para español…

It’s Christmas in Santiago. And even though the Muzak blares “let it snow” at the mall, it’s the height of summer in the southern hemisphere. That means bright sunny skies and 90º-weather. Santa has been known to wear shorts and sandals, and bikinis often appear under the tree. It all leaves this gringa dreaming of a white Christmas and pining for boots and mittens and a roaring fire to come home to and the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting from the kitchen… But nobody’s got the oven running in this heat!

But not to fret (too much) there are a few culinary traditions that can perk up the spirits and drive the Scrooge out of me, such as the Christmas favorite, Cola de Mono, literally translated as “Monkey’s Tail.” This milk-based punch is made with sugar, spices, coffee, and spiked with a hearty dose of aguardiente (a distilled grape spirit, putting it in the category of brandy). It’s lighter than egg-nog and served cold, but not to be underestimated. It can really pack a wallop, and I’m sure there are plenty of families with stories about the time Tía Lucía got a little too happy after a nip or two beyond her limit of the ole “colemono,” as it is often shortened.

There are a number of theories about the origin of the drink, although I can’t help but find it curious that a milk-based drink would come to be associated with the summer heat of a Chilean Christmas. Could it be in association with the egg nog tradition of the north?

The most commonly cited origin of the name involves a former president and his pistol. I kid you not. The short version goes that President Pedro Montt’s Colt revolver went missing at a fiesta and to calm everyone’s nerves in the meantime, a pitcher of cold café con leche was doctored with spices and booze and named in honor of the missing weapon, “colt de Montt.” The punch gained popularity and the name gradually morphed to the current “cola de mono.”

Commercially made cola de mono is available, but it’s easy to make and the homemade version is so much better that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would bother with inferior store-bought imitations. See Tasting Chile for a recipe.

There are also a few bars around town that are famous for their own homemade colemono’s. Two that come highly recommended are the Bar Nacional, downtown (Bandera 317) and Liguria (there are three in Providencia).

For a most extensive version of the history of this traditional drink (in Spanish), see: El “Cola de Mono”: la tradicional y republicana ambrosía de don Pedro Montt.

A Hotdog is not a Completo

Ask any non-Chilean what food amazed them most while in Chile and they are likely to tell you the “completo.” I have never seen this on anyone’s list of typical Chilean foods, but it should be. Literally Completo-250wtons of the things are consumed each year.

Para español, usa la herramienta de traducción o lee el resumen de abajo…

You might think this is a hot dog, but don’t be fooled. It may start out with the same basic ingredient (frankfurter or “vienesa” as they are called here”) but no self-respecting Chilean would ever eat it with just a squirt of mustard. No sir. A completo must be complete! That means ketchup, mustard, relish, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, pickled green chili pepper, gobs of avocado (palta) and an absolutely obscene amount of mayonnaise on a hot dog bun. A variation is the “italiano,” which is a hot dog topped with just chopped tomato and avocado.

You’ll find familiar looking squeeze bottles on the table. The yellow one is filled with runny, grainy mustard, and the red one is probably NOT filled with ketchup, but rather a thick red hot sauce, which many a gringo palate has discovered the hard (or rather the “hot”) way!!

Look for the popular “Dominó” restaurants that have been serving completos and other typical sandwiches since 1952 (downtown at 1016 Agustinas and on Huerfanos and Ahumada, as well as others around town). Or the famous Quicklunch in the covered corridor on the south side of the Plaza de Armas. In both cases are eaten standing at the bar.

For more about Chilean sandwiches, check out “Sánguches.”

And for more about the Flavors of Chile, see:  “Tasting Chile.”

Do you have a story about “completos”? Please let us know!



Un hotdog no es lo mismo que un completo. Básicamente podría serlo, pues consiste en una salchicha (o vienesa, como le dicen en Chile) en un pan alargado. Pero no. Los completos en Chile son verdaderamente completos. Pueden llevar, además de la típica mostaza o el ketchup, tomate natural picado, palta (aguacate), chucrut, cebolla, queso y enormes cantidades de mayonesa.

En las fuentes de soda, lugares donde se comen completos y sándwiches, siempre encontrarás tres botes: uno es amarillo, que tiene, evidentemente mostaza; pero cuidado con los otros dos. El rojo no lleva ketchup, sino una salsa roja de ají picante. El verde es el del ketchup.

La cadena de restaurantes Dominó es clásica y puedes encontrar muchos de sus locales en el centro (calle Huérfanos), así como en Providencia. El Dominó se especializa en muchas otras variedades de completos (con huevo frito, pimientos, etc.)

Ver también “Sánguches” y “Tasting Chile.”

¿Tienes una historia sobre los completos chilenos? ¡Cuéntanos!