Chilean Summer in a Tall Glass

by Liz Caskey on January 15, 2010

Ahhhh…it’s great to be back in Chile. As many of you have noticed, and commented, yes, I did take a break from the blogging world for a month over the holidays. In fact, I headed up north to spend a nostalgic Christmas, the first time since I moved to Chile in 2001, in the winter wonderland of Lancaster, Pennsylvania from where I hail (with some other stops mixed in like NYC and frigid Florida). It even snowed 12-inches the day of our arrival, just to ring in the holiday cheer. I must say though, a month was about as much cold as I could handle. I am thankful to be back and basking in the golden rays and hot temperatures of Chile.

Summer is my favorite season in Chile for two reasons: the sun and the food. I love the fact it is light until 9:30pm most nights (versus 4:45 pm sunset on the East Coast), cool in the a.m./p.m. and toasty during the day; and the harvest of fruit is beginning to come in abundantly. In the summer time, Chile turns into a veritable fruit paradise: scores of perries, peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, and melons invade the markets, ferias, every produce stand and corner shop. Even street vendors hawk plump bags of fruit on street corners at traffic lights for a luca (US$2).

One of the quintessential summer drinks is mote con huesillo, husked wheat with sundried peaches. Somewhere between a beverage, snack, and dessert, this is the sign that summer has arrived with carts and stands setting up around the city to quench people’s thrist. The recipe is simple: sundried peaches are slowly simmered in water with a little sugar to rehydrate and plump the up, making a sweet juice. This liquid is chilled and served ice cold. The mote is soaked and then cooked like rice. It is also sold in markets ready-to-eat and has a toothy texture and nutty flavor. To put the drink together, place a peach and scoop of mote in a tall glass. Ladle the chilled liquid to the brim and listo. Sip and spoon your way to some relief from the mid-afternoon heat. Chileans crave this beverage the way Southerners reach for Iced Tea when the mercury soars.

In fact, it is so popular that in the downtown of Santiago, and towns/cities up and down the Central Valley, carts set up to sell this beverage like popcorn to passersby.  If you are the capital and want to hit quite possibly the most famous mote con huesillo spot, head for Club Hípico to see Ramón Palacios. After all, he’s the rey, king, of mote con huesillo. Every year from September through March, Ramón sets up his stall on the corner of Rondizzioni and Mirador streets, close to the main entrance of Santiago’s majestic horse racing track. He’s garnered a significant following of faithful patrons and serves over 60 liters daily to soccer players, taxi drivers, and jockeys from the nearby track. For that reason, he’s rightfully known as the king. Wherever you get it, this drink is Chilean summer served up in a glass.

{ 3 comments }

omegaet January 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Welcome back….you came to the US for a month for a taste of winter and we headed to Chile for three weeks and enjoyed late spring and early summer. As for mote, I guess it is an acquired taste….I have tried one with each visit to Chile, but it is still not at the top of my list.

My wife still marvels at the size of Chilean walnuts!

Emily January 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Glad to know you’re back to the blogging world! I’m also back in the U.S. for a month (in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin). This entry definitely made me think of how much I like Chilean summers too! The produce is a big one and also trips to small beach towns and fresh seafood!

Stomach Exercises January 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

Even I love the food in the chile. Its paradise of the fruit with lots of different varieties. Hope i will visit it again in near future.

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