El Completo

by Liz Caskey on March 30, 2009

completoWhile in Chile, any seeing person will inevitably spot a Chilean, or a dozen, skillfully shoving collossial, avocado and mayonaise-laden hot dogs into their mouth at full speed. Somehow, like an accident, you cannot help but look. It is disturbing, and impressive, at the same time.

What you are witnessing is the Chilean culinary phenomenon of the Completo. Literally meaning “complete” or colloquially “chock full” in Spanish, skinny hotdogs nestled in sturdy bun are loaded with the Works. Although toppings can vary, the most ubiqutious version is the Italiano. This dog is piled high with mashed avocado, a smattering of chopped tomato, and an offensive amount of homemade mayo(calculated between ¼-1/2 cup per dog) . Each eater decides if he/she wants to make even more of flavor mish mash by adding Ketchup, mustard, and chili sauce. Buen provecho!

There’s no doubt about it, the Completo is dirty food. That kind of fast food that you inherently know is wrong but you can’t help it. Taste wins out every time. The key to the completo is not in the hot dog; it’s really all about the avocado and mayonaise. Copious, creamy, dizzying amounts. The bun simply serves as the Vehicle. In fact, given that Chileans treat mayo as a major food group and avocado as a “vegetable”, this really doesn’t come as a surprise that they would bathe a hot dog in it. This same logic appears incessantly on sándwiches and in salads.

So beyond what’s on the dog, let’s get to the important stuff—like how do you attack one of these babies?? At classier joints like Dominó, you will most likely have your completo served on a neat plastic tray. The two ridges make it much easier to eat your completo bite by bite. Sorry to tell you, but that’s for wusses. If you want to have a go at it like a local you had better 1.) eat it standing, and 2.) when served you eat it with one hand (decide which one BEFORE they hand it to you). The strategy is pretty simple and only requires a slightly limber neck. Start on side, tilting your head and bite wide enough to not get an avocado or mayo moustache. Tilt your head to the other side and bite again. Repeat until end of dog. And just a heads up, completos are served with non-absorbent wax paper-esque “napkins” that will be of NO aid if you do the unthinkable and end up wearing it (ojo/caution: avocado on shoes is quite common with newbies).

Chileans crave completos at any time of the day: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch (here two would be appropriate), tea time, dinner, post partying. You get the picture. Everybody has their favorite carrito (street cart) for a dog. In my opinión, the quality is probably the highest at a chain like Dominó or classic completo institutions like Tío Manolo.

And one thing that is really, really important to remember once you have committed to trying a completo…don’t even try to guesstimate what the caloric damage may be. Nobody really knows—and no Chilean really cares.

Spots for completos in Santiago:
Domino, all over the city
Tío Manolo: Av. Maratón with Rodrigo de Araya, a completo Mecca
Schopdog: all over town; yes this chain is dedicated to completos and beer, how fitting
In Viña del Mar: Sibartico: 5 Norte & San Martín
Carritos in every hood…

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Serge Cordov June 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Hilarious description of the completo phenomenon and the process of engulfing it

nice blog
I’ll keep coming around from time to time
congrats!

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Constanza June 28, 2013 at 1:43 am

what a perfect description of the chilean completo, we laughed so hard at your description on how to eat them. Viva Chile Mierda!

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