Burt Wolf's Menu: Santiago - #117

Santiago, the capital of Chile. The gastronomic center of one of the most interesting parts of South America... where excellent wines are produced in some of the world's most beautiful vineyards... Street foods as varied and interesting as the best of Europe. And just down the road you'll find Chile's own Riviera. And the entire area is packed with excellent restaurants.  So join me in Santiago for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Santiago is a major city with some five million people living and working in the metropolitan area. Many of its inhabitants have parents, grand-parents or great-grand-parents who immigrated here from Spain, Italy, France, Germany or England.  And much of Santiago has a very European feeling.

In the center of town is a plaza, which is the resting place of Bernardo O'Higgins. O'Higgins, the son of an Irishman, became a major Chilean military figure during the early 1800's and a leader in the wars that led to Chile's independence.

The Plaza de Armas is the city's historic center.  It was actually laid out by Pedro de Valdivia when he founded the city in 1541, only 49 years after Columbus's first voyage.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Every Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon there’s a wonderful concert here in the bandstand, except during the month of February.  It’s Sunday morning, and you can probably guess what month it is.  But all is not lost -- my gaffer Igor, who lives in Santiago, made a tape of the music last week, and we’ll play it for you while we take a tour of the plaza.

Santiago's railway station is the Estacion Central. All the trains that connect southern Chile with Santiago depart and arrive from this imposing building. It was actually designed by Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Eiffel did a number of projects in South America during the first part of his career. But when he got the big spire job in Paris, he decided to stay home next to his "tower of power". Poor guy began to believe  his own press. Always a danger.

Santiago has a mild Mediterranean climate. The median temperature in the winter months is in the fifties. And though the summer days can get into the eighties, lack of humidity makes it quite comfortable.

There are a number of excellent examples of South American colonial architecture, some beautiful parks, and as a permanent backdrop, to make sure you don't forget that you are in Chile, there are the Andes Mountains with peaks that go up some 23,000 feet.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Some towns have street food and some towns don't. It's usually a function of how the people of the city feel about food in general, and that city’s particular history. A city like London has almost no street food at all.  And that seems to be true for places like Sydney, Australia or Montreal, Canada. Other towns like New York, Amsterdam and Rome seem to be lined with streets of eats.

And that’s also the case for Chile's capital city of Santiago. The town is perfect for a street food lover, but the trick to getting the most pleasure for the calories is to have a guide. Someone who really knows what's good and even more important, where to get the best of it.

My tutor for taste is a young Chilean named Mario Artaza.  He’s followed his father's footsteps into the Chilean Foreign Service and I am following his footsteps into the street food shops of Santiago.

MARIO ARTAZA:  We’re in Domino’s.  Domino’s has been open since 1952, and they’ve kept the same recipes for all their sandwiches since then.  As you can see, we have barros jarpa and barros luco, two sandwiches named for two famous Chilean politicians of the last century.  Barros jarpa is hot ham, hot cheese.  And barros luco is hot cheese and hot meat.  Now, you can also have venesa sola and venesa completa.  Venesa sola is just, just a hot dog, all by itself with the bread.  Venesa completa is what Domino’s is famous for.  Comes with avocado, tomato, and mayonnaise -- like the Italian flag?  The red, the white and the green.

BURT WOLF:   Let’s eat!

MARIO ARTAZA:  All right -- this is the Italiana.  See, it has the tomato... watch out.  Gotta have a lot of these.  Part of the art of eating the completa is getting your hands dirty.  If you don’t get your hands dirty when eating a completa, it’s not a good completa at all.

BURT WOLF:   On my shirt, on my pants, on my shoes --

MARIO ARTAZA:  The whole deal, Burt.

BURT WOLF:   People have got to see you when you come out of here and know that you’ve eaten a completa.

MARIO ARTAZA:  And you’ve stayed away from work, too.

BURT WOLF:   (Laughs with mouth full)

MARIO ARTAZA:  After the completa it’s always good to have a mid-day coffee.  We’re going to the Cafe Haiti, famous for its Brazilian ground coffees.  It’s where all the businessmen here in Santiago hang out mid-day.

BURT WOLF:   Is that true for women also?

MARIO ARTAZA:  Well... you see sometimes you see some women in the Cafe Haiti, but mostly businessmen.

BURT WOLF:   It’s good coffee!

MARIO ARTAZA:  Straight from Brazil.  It’s the only place that imports Brazilian coffee in Chile.  They own the whole share of selling Brazilian coffee in this country. 

BURT WOLF:   The idea of serving water with coffee is quite traditional.  The Austrians were the first people to have coffee houses in Vienna, and they always served water with the coffee because they thought that coffee was too strong for your stomach, too acidic, and you have some water with it, it cuts down the acid.  It’s a good idea.  What are we eating next?

MARIO ARTAZA:  Well, from the Spaniards and the Italians we inherited our love for bread.  And in Chile, people eat a lot of bread.  These are coliza.  Some families buy one of these for a whole weekend, so when it’s dinner or lunchtime you part it out.  And it’s like a family bread.

BURT WOLF:   And you can see the pattern of the wheat that the baker has pressed into it.  That’s very nice.

MARIO ARTAZA:  Ayulla... whole wheat integral...

BURT WOLF:   Ayulla is also used for sandwiches.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.

BURT WOLF:   We had one of those before, okay.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.  And cachito.  Cachito, like the bull? 

BURT WOLF:   Ahhh!

MARIO ARTAZA:  The horns.

BURT WOLF:   And there’s the baker.

MARIO ARTAZA:  And the baker’s located down there. ... Here we have a whole variety of pizzas that Chileans love to eat.  We have pizza completa --

BURT WOLF:   Ah, that’s like the completa which we saw as a frankfurter.

MARIO ARTAZA:  That’s right.

BURT WOLF:   Okay...

MARIO ARTAZA:  A meat pizza, but here you have the whole piece of meat.


MARIO ARTAZA:  With shrimp...

BURT WOLF:   Right...

MARIO ARTAZA:  ...with pork loin, and with mushroom.

BURT WOLF:   And that’s a sandwich I never saw before.

MARIO ARTAZA:  Oh, that’s a chacarero.  “From the farm.”  Has meat, tomatoes and green beans.

BURT WOLF:   Nice.  It’s a meal really put together.

And those are just some of the street foods of Santiago.

Santiago is divided into very distinct neighborhoods, each with its very own character.  Providencia is a neighborhood that is associated with excellent residential areas, both in private homes and apartment buildings.  It also has some fabulous shopping.  Providencia is also known as the home of Santiago's most elegant hotel, the Park Plaza.  It only has about a hundred rooms, which makes it small enough for the staff to really give very special service to the guests.  It's nice to get to know the people here, and to get the feeling of home.  The hotel has also gone to great lengths to detail the entire building in a way that reinforces the feeling of quality.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1800s, and the first decades of the 1900s, hotels were famous for the high quality of their cooking.  But by the 1950s, they were equally famous for the low quality of their cooking.  Fortunately that has begun to change.  It’s particularly true here in Santiago, and very true at the Hotel Park Plaza.  They have a restaurant that is so good that it is constantly packed with locals.

The chef, Joel Solorza, is one of the city's most respected professionals.  The first dish that Joel is preparing is a very traditional homestyle beef stew that comes from the south of Chile. He starts by heating a little oil in a sauté pan. Then in goes a pound of beef cut into bite-sized strips. Two cloves of garlic go in, a dried red pepper... hot stuff. Instead of the whole red pepper you can also use dried red pepper flakes.  Those ingredients cook together for a few moments.  Then in goes some oregano... salt... a cup of sliced onion. Five more minutes of sautéing.  A sliced potato.  A half cup of white wine.  As soon as the wine has cooked off and the beef is beginning to look dry on the surface, everything is transferred to a deep-sided pan. Four cups of beef stock are added and the soup simmers for 20 minutes. At the end of the simmering time, four egg whites are whisked in. Then the soup is ladled into serving bowls and just before the soup goes to the table a half of an egg yolk is stirred in and topped with a pinch of oregano and some fresh parsley. As I was writing down the last part of this recipe my producer commented that she could just hear me saying "the egg yolk is optional." So I'm not going to say it.  But I'm thinking it.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   In 1535, a Spanish expedition headed south from Peru in the hopes of finding a civilization similar to the Incas. The Spanish had just discovered the Incas, and that was thrilling. Thrilling for the Spanish, that is. The Incas were into gold and so were the Spanish. As a matter of fact, the Spanish were into the Incas' gold. Anyway, the expedition came up empty-handed, and frustrated and exhausted, they headed for the coast to meet up with a group of Spanish ships. As the young, homesick lieutenant broke through the woods at the top of these hills and saw the magnificent bay below, it reminded him of his hometown in Spain.  And named the area after that town, Valparaiso.

Valparaiso was the first Spanish coastal settlement in what was to become Chile. It also became the country's most important port. The original town was built around the central dock area and for many years was greatly influenced by big English corporations who settled into Valparaiso as Great Britain became Chile's largest trading partner. The old Grace shipping building and the Queen Victoria Hotel are reminders of the period. And so is the downtown commercial area, which was built under the influence of British merchants to look like London. They even installed Turri Clock, their own version of Big Ben. As the town grew, it was forced to move up the surrounding hills. The result is a very unusual city with a population that moves up and down a series of very steep elevations. The residents make the trip many times throughout the day, and often the journey is made in cable cars.

Valparaiso's central market hasn't changed in over a hundred years, and its energy is still at an extraordinary level.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Because Valparaiso has such a long history, it holds the record for a number of Chilean firsts. It had the first gaslight, the first telephone, the first firehouse, and it holds the record for the oldest continually-published Spanish language newspaper in the world; it is called El Mercurio, it started in 1827, it is still published everyday, it’s as influential as ever, but I cannot find the comics.

Valparaiso is also the seat of the national government. That's the new Congress Building, the symbolic home of Chile's new democracy. A democracy, by the way, with a voter turnout of over 90 percent. Democracy may feed the soul, but across the street is a man who for over forty years has fed the body. The Mani Tostado shop toasts and sugar-coats nuts. They are the national snack of Chile and when you buy them here they are still hot from the roaster.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Gracias.  The owner wanted to know whether I thought a shop like his would do well in North America. I told him I thought it would. North Americans love sugar-coated nuts... just look at some of the politicians we elect.

Just down the street from Valparaiso is the luxury resort town of Viña del Mar. Viña del Mar is to Chile what Monaco is to the south of France. Long wide streets lined with palm trees... Long wide beaches lined with señoritas... And long wide casinos lined with money. Viña del Mar has a great deal of charm. The people are very pleasant. There are dozens of restaurants with excellent food and the whole place is designed for having a good time.

Sergio Lopez-Pugh was my guide.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  We're in a rather new part of Viña del Mar.  The actual city was developed in the land which is that way, along the hills in the back.  This part, and the whole city, actually, was mostly farmland.

BURT WOLF:   Farms.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  Yeah, and they belonged to a single family.

BURT WOLF:   One family owned all the land.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:   The whole place.  And the land was inherited by this family, and in the early 1800s, around 1830, 1840, a member of this family decided that it would be just a shame to waste this beautiful sun and the weather and the water and everything else, so they decided to build a city.  And they used to have a vineyard.  And since the vineyard was close to the ocean, they called the city Viña del Mar --

BURT WOLF:   "Vineyard Near The Sea"

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  -- meaning "the Vineyard Of The Ocean." yes. 

BURT WOLF:   Okay.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  Now, if you look at that pier to our left, the story of that pier is quite interesting.  They used to, when they built it, they used it to load minerals from ships.  And so the only things you had were the railroad tracks that went all the way to the end of the pier, and the track ties.  And I recall that when I was about twelve years old, we used to come fishing here.  And the fishing was great, I'll tell you.  But the thing is, you would have to go jumping from one tie to the next, and underneath there was nothing, just the ocean.  So you'd have to be very careful and balance yourself with all the fishing gear in one hand and the pole in the other one, walking along these railroad tracks and hoping they wouldn't return home all wet.

BURT WOLF:   Ah, the things you do when you're a kid.

SERGIO LOPEZ-PUGH:  I know, if my mom found out, she probably wouldn't have liked it.

Chef Joel Solorza at the Park Plaza Hotel has a home near Viña del Mar, and has mastered many of the local seafood recipes.  This fish soup is a perfect example.

The recipe starts with 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 cloves of garlic going into a hot sauté pan, plus a dried chili, or if it’s easier, some dried chili flakes. Next a cup of sliced onion... a large tomato, sliced... a clove of sliced garlic... some paprika... oregano... chives... bite-sized cubes of fish... about a cup's worth... a cup of shrimp... some with heads on, some without... the shrimp heads, of course, are optional. Then a cup of baby shrimp and a half cup of oysters. Those ingredients cook for a few moments and in goes a cup of white wine. A little salt and white pepper. Three cups of fish stock or clam broth or chicken stock are added. Ten minutes of simmering and the soup goes into serving bowls. Just before it goes to the table a tablespoon of cream is spooned on top, along with some chopped chives.

Roast pork ribs with spicy mashed potatoes is often prepared for a family gathering. Having tasted it a number of times on my visit to Chile I decided to join a family just for the food of it.

The preparation starts with a slab of pork ribs. The size and number of slabs depends on the number of guests at the meal. A general rule of thumb is one pound per person. A little oil that has been sitting together with a few garlic cloves gets rubbed onto the meat. Next comes a light coating of chopped garlic, followed by a slathering of a sauce that's made from one cup of ketchup mixed with 4 tablespoons of hot Chinese style chili paste. While that's going on I should point out that chili peppers got started here in South America and were taken to China by European explorers. Next some oregano goes on, salt, white pepper, and a few dried chili flakes. Then the meat goes into a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. When it comes out, the ribs are sliced into serving portions and come to the table along with some spicy mashed potatoes.  And here's how those potatoes are made.

Potatoes are peeled and boiled for 20 minutes or until they are tender. Then they go through a potato ricer that breaks them into tiny pieces that look very much like rice. It's a nice gadget for mashed potato lovers, but you can mash the potatoes with a fork and end up in just about the same place.  Whatever you use, don't use a food processor; they can easily turn potatoes into glue.

Once the potatoes are mashed, Joel adds a half cup of milk for every 6 potatoes plus a tablespoon of butter... a little salt... and a heaping spoonful of chili paste. Being the artist that he is, he then puts them into a pastry bag and pipes them onto the dish.  Pork ribs with spicy mashed potatoes -- ¡Muy bueno!

The missionaries who travelled with the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s planted the first grape vines in Chile. The wines that were made from those grapes were used as altar wines in the services of the church.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And that was pretty much the story of Chilean wine for over 100 years. But then in 1851, a man named Silvestre Ochagavia realized that Chile had the perfect soil and climate to be a major wine-producing nation.  And so he set about importing both vines and wine makers from France, and building some vineyards. Well, his experiments were quite successful and he soon became known as the "Father of Chilean Wine."  Which really annoyed his children, but hey, that's life.

Today many international experts feel that Chile is becoming a very important wine producer, with the government playing a major role in encouraging quality.  The most successful wine-growing areas are just outside Santiago. Three of the most famous Chilean producers are Undurraga, who holds the distinction of being the first Chilean to export wine to the United States; The date was 1912.  Then there is Concha y Toro, which is the largest and probably the best-known in North America.  And finally Santa Rita, who makes excellent wine in one of the most beautiful estates I have ever seen.  Roberto Rivas is giving us the grand tour.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  ...like for example the araucaria, which -- they are a very unusual tree.  Here is the, the new generation.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, it has these daggers that come out; I read about this.  The daggers come when they’re young so no animals can get on it, including people, and when the tree gets big and strong it loses the daggers.  It’s a natural protective system; very clever.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Well, this tree is very useful in the southern part of Chile, because from the seeds it will become the bread for the Arucanians.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, they make bread from the seeds of the tree.


BURT WOLF:   No wonder it’s the national tree.  What’s that?

ROBERTO RIVAS:  That is a Romanic swimming pool.  Swimming bath.  It’s a very small swimming pool, and it’s everything covered by the walls.  And the main idea was to make this for the females swimming at different times than the males, so they won’t see each other in swimming costumes.  And the other thing is they won’t see each other’s, their pirellis.

BURT WOLF:   Oh, Pirelli, the tire manufacturers -- oh, in English we say “you won’t see my spare tire. 

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Spare tire.

BURT WOLF:   Ohh, pirelli.  What a great word.  Of course, they could have had an exercise and diet program, saved all than money on the building.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Yeah, but at that time, you know how they used to be -- sitting and relaxing, enjoying themselves. ... This church, it was a wedding present for the daughter of the founder of the winery.  And it was done by a very famous French architect.

BURT WOLF:   It was a wedding present?


BURT WOLF:   Difficult to wrap.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  Yeah, well, they worked very hard at it.  And inside the chapel, you can see a part especially for the family, and the other part is for the rest of the people.  As you can see that we’re restoring everything back again.  It’s beautiful. ... Well, here, we will open this Medalla Real cabernet --

BURT WOLF:   Mmmmm.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  -- which is coming from the grapes we have here in the background, means it’s a cabernet sauvignon variety.  So I hope you like it.  This wine has been aging in a barrel like this one for a period of time of three hundred days.  Cheers.  It’s very round.  Very fine.  Doesn’t stick out.

BURT WOLF:   I won’t be talking for awhile; I’m just going to be drinking.

ROBERTO RIVAS:  (Laughing)  Enjoy, then.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I once heard Chile described as a long, thin country, similar to the west coast of North America, running from the very top of Alaska to the bottom of California, only flipped over into the southern hemisphere. One of the results of that flip is the North American winter is the South American summer. Another result is a reversal of harvest seasons for many fruits.

Somewhere along the line, someone in Chile realized that New York was directly north of Chile's major farmlands and that their summer harvest was perfectly timed for North America's winter. Nice deal for everyone. Chile is now a major exporter of amazing apples... precious peaches... perfect pears... plump plums... great grapes... and kiwis, for which I could not figure out an acceptable alliteration. Anyway, from December through April, the United States and Canada are the importers.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Of all the information that has come in in recent years about the relationship of food to good health, I think my favorite is the material on fresh fruits. It appears that a diet that is high in fresh fruit is very good for us. As a matter of fact, just a single portion a day can make a difference in terms of your heart. I really like it when we find out that something that is healthy is also easy and tastes good.  Well, that’s our tour through Santiago, Chile.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat, and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Chile - #113

Chile... The world's longest mountain chain to the east.  The world's driest desert to the north.  The world's deepest ocean to the west. And to the south... the end of the world.  And in the middle... wonderful people with a great sense of history and culture and some fabulous food... a magnificent local salsa.... and corn from the continent where it first grew.  So join me in Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The word Chile comes from one of the ancient dialects of the native tribes of this country, and it means "the spot where the land ends," and that's a pretty good description of Chile. It has over 2,500 miles of coastline where the west side of South America ends and the Pacific Ocean begins. The most southerly part of Chile is a spot called Tierra Del Fuego, which is right opposite Antarctica; clearly the spot where the land ends.

If you take a look at a map of South America you see Chile running down the western side of the continent like a ribbon, 3000 miles from top to bottom but only 100 miles wide.  Chile is so narrow that you can stand on the peaks of the Andean mountains that represent the country's eastern frontier with Argentina and see the beaches on the Pacific Ocean that make up the western border.

The Atacama desert in the north is the driest place on earth; as far as anyone knows, there are parts of the Atacama that have never had a single drop of rain.

In the middle of the country is the nation's agricultural center... with thousands of acres of exceptional soil. The area's farms, orchards, and vineyards are constantly being irrigated by a flow of fresh water from the melting snow in the Andes.  To the south of the farms is the Lake District with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  And finally, as Chile comes to an end, the land breaks up into a thousand islands.

Chile also has 2,085 volcanoes. Two thousand and thirty are quietly sleeping. Fifty-five are awake, active and very busy doing their thing.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first European to see Chile that we know about was the Portuguese explorer Hernando Magellan. He sailed through the straits at the bottom of Chile and gave the passage his name. Then he sailed up along the coast but he never really settled in. I always considered Magellan a guy in the food business, because he had been sent out to find a short cut to the spices of Asia.  The king wanted to buy those spices at wholesale, bring them back to Europe, and resell them at prices so high that he would end up making big bucks.

Francisco Pizarro was one of the leaders of the Spanish conquistadors in South America. Pedro de Valdivia was one of his, shall we say, associates, and was given Chile as a reward for his loyalty.  De Valdivia then became the first European to settle in Chile.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Those were the good old days when loyalty was really appreciated. "Soooo Pedro, you have been a good and loyal friend, and for that I give you Chile.  And because it's Friday, I throw in a nice slice of Argentina." These days if you’re the head of a government and you have a loyal supporter, that loyal supporter becomes the ambassador to Paris.  Hey, don’t get me wrong -- being the ambassador to Paris is a really great job.  But it’s not like being given your own country.  We have devalued loyalty.  Sad.  Anyway, in 1541 Pedro de Valdivia founded the first city in Chile. He did it right on the mountain on which I am standing, and he called it Santiago.

For the next 200 years or so the Spanish fought with the native Mapuches tribe for control of the land. The Mapuches had never seen a horse, and in the early years of the conflict they thought that the Spanish soldier and his horse were one animal. Kind of like the way I felt about my son James when he got his first motorcycle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   For the first 300 years or so, Chile was more or less under control of the royal house of Spain. Then in the late 1700s, those ideas that eventually led to the revolutions in America and France began to filter  down to Chile. They were ideas whose time had definitely come, not only in Chile but all over South America, and on the eighteenth of September, 1810, Chile declared its independence. Today Chile is a democracy with a government that is freely elected by over 90 percent of the people.

The two forces that usually exert the strongest influence on the gastronomy of a nation are its geography and the culture of the people who have lived on its land. When it comes to Chile, both geography and cultural history are quite dramatic.

Chile is nearly twice the size of California, with some 2,650 miles of Pacific coastline that drops off into the world's deepest ocean. The north is the world's driest desert. The south is a wall of frozen ice fields. And the world's longest mountain chain, the Andes, runs down the length of the country and seals it off from the its eastern neighbors.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first human inhabitants of Chile that we know about were probably a group of native tribes who came across the Bering Sea from Asia to Alaska and down the Pacific coast of the Americas about 35,000 years ago. Then the Spanish conquistadors showed up, the English, the Germans, the French, the Italians, the North Americans and just about everybody else who got a good look at the beauty of the place. Well, if all of those people are living here, what's for dinner?  Actually, some pretty great  stuff. Those thousands of miles of Pacific coast produce some wonderful fish, which has made Chile the fourth leading fishing nation on the planet.

Opposite the ocean are the Andes mountains. They have made their gastronomic contribution by sending rivers of fresh water into the valleys below and that has produced mile after mile of fertile farm land. Land that yields some of the world's best fruit. The roadside stands are overflowing with plums, peaches, apricots, apples, and melons. I’ve had a serious weakness for watermelon since I was kid, and the Chilean watermelons are absolutely topnotch.

The original native tribes were responsible for the growing of corn which you find in some excellent recipes. Pastel de Choclo is a like a shepherds' pie: chicken or beef at the bottom of a casserole, a layer of mashed corn on top.

Another corn recipe for a very traditional Chilean dish is Humitas. They are easily made by steaming mashed corn that has been wrapped in a cornhusk.

The Spanish influence results in the empanada. Little packs of pastry filled with cheese, meat or seafood.  They originally became popular because the ingredients were so inexpensive. Now they’re popular because they taste great.

Even though Chile does not have a lot of land for raising cattle they still produce some excellent beef, and their pork products are very good. They have a type of restaurant called aparilladas, where cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and sausages are grilled in the kitchen and then brought to the table on a mini-BBQ.

When it comes to pastry and dessert, the Germans have transported just about everything that Bavaria had to offer. Torts, pies, cakes and creams. And the Italians have introduced gelato. The most Chilean of desserts, however, are based on manjar which is condensed milk that has been heated until the sugar in it has caramelized.  Manjar is used in many common sweets.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The major meal of the day is lunch. It begins around one o’clock and kind of slices along until 3:30.  In case you get hungry later in the day, they have something called once which is the Spanish word for eleven. It’s kind of a high tea with little sandwiches and pastries, and it’s something to hold body and soul together until dinner, which usually begins around 9:00.  Now, my friends here tell me that the reason this break is called once is because some people are not drinking tea in their teacups.  They’re actually drinking a powerful locally distilled spirit called Aguardiente, which just happens to have eleven letters. Very clever bit of coding, eh, Bond?

The national before-meals alcoholic beverage is called a Pisco Sour. Pisco is distilled from Muscat wine. It arrives with the impact of straight tequila, and leaves with a slight flavor that reminds me of pears.

A traditional Chilean cooking method is called "curanto", which means "hot stones."  A master of this technique is Coco Pacheco, the owner and chef of Coco's Restaurant in Santiago.  His assistant, Francesca Ciani, tells us how it's done.

FRANCESCA CIANI:  This is a typical Indian, native -- um, Indian / Chilean type of dish.  Basically what they did here is that they heat up stones for two hours.  This is their kitchen; instead of using coal, they heat up their food on top of these stones.  You dig it up with dirt -- this is how you maintain the heat.  And it has these sacks on top.  And these leaves here that you see on top, these are typical from the south of Chile.  This is the chicken... so you see, it’s all hot.  There’s a lobster -- this is all a combination of dishes.  This is meat, meats with the seafood... there’s shrimps, kind of made into like shish-kebobs, and they’re wrapped in between cabbage, cabbage leaves.  The whole idea here is that they’re all cooked naturally; there’s no, there’s no sauces, there’s no spices.  This dish is like more than a thousand years old by the native Indians, and it can include practically everything.  Seafood, meats... this is salmon that is roasted.

COCO PACHECO:  (Speaks Spanish)

FRANCESCA CIANI:  He says the most beautiful thing is to feel and taste the natural taste of all the seafood and the fish.

COCO PACHECO:  Es excellente.  ¡Whew!  ¡Rico!

FRANCESCA CIANI:  Eating something from -- that, that comes from -- that’s cooked on, from the dirt is something completely different from eating it from the oven or from the stove.  This is, this is what gives the taste, and this is something that’s, that’s natural, which --

COCO PACHECO:  (Speaks Spanish)

FRANCESCA CIANI:  The vapors on all the tastes trespass between each other and you taste the different tastes, which is the best.  You have a combination of tastes, which -- that’s what, this is what makes the plate unique.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   During the middle of the 1500's, say 450 years ago, a man named Juan Jufre y Montero was travelling  through South America with the conquistadors. His job was to make a list of what those guys were doing and send it back to the King of Spain.  Well, Juan was doing such a good job that the king decided to give him a bonus. And so in the year 1545, Carlos V, King of Spain, Ruler Of The Americas, Defender Of The Faith, and Keeper Of A Fabulous Recipe For A Cup Of Cocoa, amongst other things, gave his dear and loyal friend 10,000 acres of fabulous farmland just south of the city of Santiago. It was good to be King.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t bad to be the king's good friend either.

Since then the land has been passed down through the family, and today it’s known as Los Lingues.  It's owned by German Claro Lyon and his wife Maria Elena.

It is a working farm that breeds Aculeguano horses, which are often described as the best horses in South America. They trace their bloodlines back to the Moors who bred these horses in Spain during the 700's.

The hacienda and the nearby outbuildings have been turned into a rural guest house, with an excellent kitchen.

Maria Gomez has been the household’s chief cook for over thirty years.  Her skill at producing the classic dishes of Chile is unbeatable.  She starts with pebre, which is the salsa of Chile. 

A chopped onion goes into the bowl, followed by two peeled, chopped tomatoes and a half cup of minced Italian parsley.  Next a green chili pepper is rolled between your hands to loosen the seeds and sliced lengthwise.  The seeds are removed, and the pepper is chopped and added to the bowl.  A little vegetable oil is drizzled on top, and all the salsa ingredients are mixed together thoroughly and rest for a minute.  That’s it!  And it’s excellent.

The next recipe is for Maria's empanadas.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The recipe starts by making the stuffing, which is real easy.  You heat a little olive oil in a saute pan, you add in a chopped onion, some chopped beef, cook that for a few minutes, and then the seasoning, which is just salt and cumin. That's what we've got there.

Then a dough mixture is made from flour, water, salt and shortening and rolled into small balls, each with about a half cup of dough. Those in turn are rolled out into six-inch circles.  A raisin goes into the center, followed by two slices of hard-boiled egg... an olive... and a spoon's worth of the meat mixture. The bottom half of the dough is folded up to cover the mixture and pressed down to seal it in. The top flap of dough is trimmed with a pastry crimper. Folded over... Pressed down on the sides... Trimmed and folded again. Then baked in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.

At the edge of the city of Santiago is a church called Vicente Ferrer.  It was built by the Dominican fathers during the mid-1500s, and has a long history as the favored church of many of Chile's most famous heroes.

Behind the church is a small village called Los Dominicos.  It’s a village of craftspeople who have set up small shops where they practice their craft, and sell their artwork.

A perfect example is the shop of Pablo Manns.  Pablo has taught himself to work with wood, and makes wonderful marionettes.  Each piece is totally made by hand, and as you would expect, Pablo is a fabulous puppeteer.

About 75 miles south of Santiago, resting against the side of a mountain pass, and looking down a river that races out of the Andes is the Termas De Cauquenes. For over 400 years there has been an inn on this spot... an inn where people come and rejuvenate themselves...  a rejuvenation that takes place in the hot mineral baths that come up from deep inside the earth.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The idea of resting in a mineral bath actually goes back for thousands of years. The ancient Roman soldiers would stop into a small town in Belgium on their way home from the wars in Northern Europe and sit in the mineral pools. One of the reasons they felt better resting in those mineral pools is because the water was filled with warm salts.  The salts made their bodies float. That gave them a sense of lightness, which in turn gave them a sense of well-being. The name of that small town in Belgium, by the way, was SPA.  The Termas here never hosted any Roman soldiers, but many of the most important people in Chile's military history came by, including Bernardo O'Higgins, who was the head of Chile's army of independence.  The scientific community was represented by Charles Darwin, who vacationed here to rest his evolving bones.

Today the Termas is as also an excellent resort under the direction of a Swiss hotelier and his family. Rene Acklin is his name and he has been living in Chile since 1972. During those years he has become one of the country's most respected chefs.

RENE ACKLIN:  Now we are preparing one of the best fishes from the south, the South Pacific -- this is merrow, called in United States “Chilean Sea Bass.”

BURT WOLF:   Chilean Sea Bass.  I can ask for that.

RENE ACKLIN:  I think this is one of the richest-flavored fish you can ever find; rich in Omega-3 fat content, which is very healthy.  Therefore, we are not going to prepare it very heavy; we just add a little olive oil, a little bit vegetable, and that’s it.

BURT WOLF:   Let’s do it!

Rene is also an exporter of fish and quite an authority on the subject.  The recipe starts with the Sea Bass fillets being salted and peppered. Then one side is dipped in flour and it's off to a waiting sauté pan that's been used to heat a little oil. The fish goes in, flour side down. Two minutes of cooking on each side. A little lime juice. And into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, a little butter goes into a pan, to be joined by a cup of cubed zucchini, some thinly sliced yellow, green and red bell peppers, and a large chopped tomato with its juices. While that's cooking for a few minutes, some pre-cooked black beans and a little water are pureed in a blender, then heated in a sauce pan. At this point everything is ready to go to the serving plate. First the pureed black beans go on, then the Chilean Sea Bass, and finally the bell peppers. That's it. An interesting and attractive collection of colors and flavors for very little work.

Rene's second recipe is for one of the most traditional dishes in Chile. It is called Pastel De Choclo.  Rene starts by putting a little oil into a saucepan, followed by a chopped onion, and some cubed beef. That cooks for a minute. Then in goes a little paprika and some salt and pepper. Rene divides the mixture into individual heat-proof serving dishes but it can just as easily go into one big heat-proof family sized dish. A few olives are added, and a piece of chicken that has been cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes. A few raisins and a couple of slices of hard-boiled egg. At this point the dishes are held aside for a moment while a little butter is melted in a saucepan. Some corn kernels are pureed in a blender an added to the melted butter. A little milk, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar go in. Whether or not sugar is added appears to be a function of where in Chile you learn the recipe. Rene is from the sweet school which is in keeping with his overall disposition. The pureed corn is then used to give a top crust to the casserole, and it's into a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. When it comes out it's ready to serve. Great dish.

Carne Mechada Con Porotos Granados.  That's the next recipe at the Termas, and it's being prepared by Rene's daughter Sabine.  It's basically a pot roast with fresh beans, and the national down-home recipe of Chile.

She starts with a 6 pound rump roast. A series of holes get poked into the meat and filled with strips of carrot and garlic cloves. A little oil is heated in a large pan. The meat goes in and gets seared on all sides for about 5 minutes. Chopped onion goes in. Chopped garlic goes in. Chopped tomatoes and their juices go in. Followed by a little oregano, rosemary, parsley and two cups of boiling water. The pot cover goes on and everything is simmered for 50 minutes.

While the meat’s in the oven she makes the beans. Two tablespoons of butter are melted in a casserole. Then in goes a chopped onion, and two cups of fresh pumpkin cut into small cubes. If fresh pumpkin is not in season you can use any other squash. A cup of chopped tomatoes. Two cups of white beans. Two cups of green beans. Both pre-cooked. Two cups of corn kernels that have been pureed in a blender along with a half cup of fresh basil. Top goes on and all that simmers for 20 minutes.

When the meat comes out, its sliced and everything is ready to serve. The beans go onto the plate first, followed by the slices of beef with their polkadots of garlic and carrot, and finally some of the sauce that came from the meat.

The government of Chile has organized the country into thirteen districts, or regions. The area known as The Lake District covers most of district number Ten, which is also called Los Lagos. Los Lagos is one of the most beautiful areas in the Americas. It has lakes, rivers, ocean beaches, the extraordinary eighty million-year-old peaks of the Andes Mountains, ten million-year-old volcanoes, and a subtropical rain forest.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the government of Chile wanted to encourage European settlers to come to the southern half of Chile, they set up an immigration office in Kassel, Germany.  They offered great land at low prices, no taxes for the first twenty years, and the right to practice any religion you wanted to.  So many Germans came here during the last three decades of the 1800's that the place began to look, and sound, like Bavaria. It also began to taste like it. The Germans set up the first brewery in Chile, and began to reproduce their favorite dishes from their homeland.

In 1905 the settlers brought trout from Germany and began to stock the southern lakes of Chile. They also started the cultivation of salmon. Today you will see the quantity and quality of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pastry that you would expect in most parts of Germany.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   And yet this is clearly not an expatriate German community. The people who live in the Lake District are Chilean first, with a German heritage, in the same way that everybody who lives in the United States and Canada has an ancestor who came there from someplace else. And though the food is clearly German in origin, it has a Chilean accent. I never forget that the completo, the most popular street food in Chile, though it is clearly a frankfurter, on a frankfurter roll, does not come with a topping of mustard and sauerkraut.  What goes on top is guacamole.  Well, that’s our tour of Chile.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I’m Burt Wolf.

[Under the end titles, Burt attempts to make an empanada]

BURT WOLF:   Well... it’s not bad for a gringo.MARIA GOMEZ:  Ah, muy bien.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Lake District of Chile - #109

The Lake District of Chile... one of the most beautiful landscapes in The Western Hemisphere.  Its culture comes from the native tribes, Spanish explorers and German colonists.  One of its most important centers is Valdivia, with its historic structures and botanical gardens.  It’s the spot to see what makes southern Chile an international tourist attraction.  So join me in The Lake District of Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, once described his native land as “a thin country”.  It was a reference to the fact that Chile runs down the west coast of South America for almost 3000 miles, and for most of that distance it is only about 100 miles wide.  Chile is also the world’s longest country.   Perhaps the nation’s most distinctive geographical features are the peaks of the Andes Mountain range.  They are distributed down the entire length of the country and present a constant backdrop to the scenery. They also have an interesting effect on the weather.  They act as a barrier to bad fronts that come in from the Pacific Ocean.  Their great height forces the clouds to deposit their humidity on the mountain crests. Beauty and function.  Chile has been divided into three geographic zones.  The north is home to the Atacama desert, which very well may be the driest in the world.  The central region, which surrounds the capital city of Santiago, is the business and cultural center of the nation and the core of its agricultural activities. And finally, one of the most beautiful parts of the Americas, the south. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Lake District of Chile is in the lower third of the country, the south.  Though I think it’s only fair to point out that the only reason we consider the south “lower” than the north is because the guys who first made the maps that we use were in the north, and they loved the idea of being on top of the world.  Nevertheless, I think that any visitor to the Lake District in Chile would agree that things around here were definitely up. 

During the 1600’s the Bio Bio River was marked as the boundary between the Spanish colonists and the native Mapuche.  Since the Lake District is considerably below this line, the land was under the control of the tribes and not a very safe place for European settlers.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): The Lake District of Chile wasn’t fully colonized until well into the second half of the 1800’s.  Since then it has become a symbol for the people of Chile --a symbol of the honest life, the good life.  Clean, healthy, unspoiled, real people doing real things.  The district also has a number of geographic features that make it very popular. 

First of all it has the lakes, some of which are the largest in South America.  The lakes were originally formed by glaciers passing through during the last Ice Age.  As the ice advanced north from the South Pole it would dig out huge basins in the earth.  Then when things got too hot for the glaciers and they headed south again, their melting ice filled the basins and pure, clear lakes were formed.  The lakes are now fed by rivers that pour down from the snow melt in the Andes Mountains, and drained by the rivers that run from the lakes into the Pacific Ocean.  And then there are the volcanoes.  The eastern edge of the Lake District runs along what is called the Pacific Rim of Fire.  It starts out in Alaska, runs down the west coast of North America, Central America and South America.  Then it slides down into the Pacific Ocean and pops up again in New Zealand.  From there on it island-hops in a sweeping curve up through and past Japan.  It is this unique combination of volcanoes and lakes that give the Lake District its signature landscape.  But there are also the araucania trees.  They are only found in this part of the world, and they take about 500 years to reach maturity. Then they live for over 2,000.  They’re considered a national treasure and protected against cutting by the federal government.  And finally, there are the rolling green hills covered with farms that remind people of southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  The fact that the Lake District in Chile looks and feels very much like Germany has played an important part in Chile’s history. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1800’s there was an adviser to the president of Chile named Perez Rosales.  And he decided that it was time to fully colonize the Lake District. There were two things motivating him.  He wanted to fully pacify the local tribes, and he wanted to make sure that the Argentineans didn’t get in here. He felt that those things could only be achieved by a colonial group that was new, came from Europe, and was strong and fully motivated to do the job.

Perez Rosales went around telling everybody that the word for “foreigner” had been eliminated in the Chilean language. Colonization offices were set up in Germany with the objective of convincing people to immigrate to Chile.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The government was offering land at greatly reduced prices, a long period without taxes, and a clear promise of freedom of religion.  Three very important selling points to the Germans.  In no uncertain terms, Perez Rosales was saying “Come on down”.

By 1860 over 3,000 Germans had settled into this area.  By 1900 there were over 30,000.  Some had come from the German countryside and immediately set up farms.  Today you can drive along the roads in the Lake District and easily think you are driving through the German countryside.  The farm buildings are built to look as European as possible.  And the local names make the place sound German.  But many of the Germans who came into the district came not from farms but from light industry.  They moved in and set up small towns.  They practiced their     old skills.  The Lake District got Chile’s first beer brewery.  Woodworkers arrived and quickly reproduced the same furniture that they had been making in Germany.  The roots were in Europe... but the tree blossomed in Chile.

The German influence is also very apparent in the area’s food.  This is EntreLagos, which means “between the lakes,” though in this case I think the lakes we are talking about are filled with ice cream and chocolate.  This place displays the variety and quality that you would find in any major European sweet shop.  Like the folks of North America, the people of Chile love chocolate. The shop’s main area is given over to small tables where an assortment of ice cream dishes are served along with a great selection of real coffees and some fabulous cakes and cookies.  There’s even a special area for chocolates and marzipan.  It's actually a shop next door, and it's a major attraction for the people of Valdivia.  It has a wonderful selection of hand-made chocolates -- cremes, fruits, nougats, nuts, truffles -- the traditional stuff.  But there's also a collection of chocolate figurines; folkloric characters, including Santa Claus.  And a major commitment to marzipan.  Marzipan is always a big deal in German communities.  When sugar first started coming into Germany, it got mixed in with ground almonds and given to artists as an edible medium.  Frankfurters, cheeseburgers, Fred Flintstone, brides and grooms, and the Three Little Pigs.  And if I continue eating in here, I'm going to be the fourth.

Mauricio Peña is the master pastry chef at EntreLagos and this is a Sacher Torte recipe that has been adapted to the taste of the food lovers of Chile.  Fourteen tablespoons of butter, at room temperature, go into a mixing bowl and get beaten with an electric beater until smooth.  That’ll take about two minutes.  Three quarters of a cup of sugar is added and beaten into the butter.  Then five egg yolks take the same beating.  Seven ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate get blended in, after which a half cup of ground hazelnuts are added.  After the nuts, a teaspoon of vanilla extract is added.  Then the beater heads are changed, or just cleaned, because it’s time to beat the five egg whites.  They are beaten until they start to get stiff and then added to the batter.  But at the same time that you are adding them to the batter you are also adding one and a quarter cups of flour.  And to make sure that everything gets added evenly and without lumps, the egg whites and flour are added one after the other, a quarter at a time.  The final ingredient is a teaspoon of baking powder.  That’s the basic cake batter and it gets poured into a deep, nine-inch round cake pan that has a loose bottom and is lightly buttered. The batter is spread out to the corners and smoothed out on top. Then it’s into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  While the cake is baking, the chocolate coating is made.  A cup of cream goes into a saucepan.  Eight ounces of semi-sweet chocolate are melted in a heat-proof bowl.  Then the chocolate is mixed into the cream and held aside to cool.  When the cake is fully baked, it is taken out of the oven and allowed to cool.  That takes about two hours.  At which point it is removed from the pan.  Then it is sliced into three discs.  Pastry chefs prefer to make the layers of a layer cake like this by making one cake in one deep pan and cutting it into layers, rather than in three individual shallow pans, because having made one cake to start with they are sure that all the layers will fit back together properly when they pile them up, which is not always the case when individual layers are baked, one at a time.  The top two layers are taken off and held aside and the remaining bottom layer is given a paint job with cherry liqueur.  The melted chocolate and cream mixture returns and a coating is put onto the layer and smoothed out.  Then a layer of cherry preserves.  Next... the second layer of the cake.  More cherry liqueur.  More chocolate cream mixture.  More preserves, and then the third layer of cake.  Some of the chocolate mixture is poured on top and then the cake goes into the refrigerator for two hours to set.  When it comes out it gets one more final coating of liquid chocolate. It rests for five minutes and gets cut into twelve serving pieces.  The cutting is done with a serrated knife which is dipped into warm water between each cut and wiped clean.  A clean, warm, slightly moist blade helps give you a much cleaner cut.  It’s a good technique to use with all moist cakes.  Like any work of art, this cake requires a signature.  A pastry bag is made by rolling some waxed paper into a tube, filling it with some of the liquid chocolate, cutting off the tip and using it to do the writing.  A slight pressure is placed onto the tube and the word “Chile” is written on the top of the cake.  This is probably one of those times when spelling counts.

EntreLagos also serves up a few main dishes with the same attention to flavor that goes into the sweets. Today the lunch special is Chupin De Pescado. It’s a simple but great-tasting fish stew.  Chef Edgardo Soto does the main dishes, and he starts this one by pouring two tablespoons of vegetable oil into a large casserole. As soon as the oil is hot, in goes a chopped clove of garlic.  Then a red bell pepper that has been seeded and cored and sliced into thin strips.  That’s followed by a green bell pepper that has also been seeded and cored and sliced into thin strips.  A little stirring and in goes a half cup of grated carrot, and a cup of sliced onion.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When you’re working with a raw onion, that odor can be quite intense; it might even move you to tears.  What you’re dealing with is a form of sulfuric acid.  When you cut the onion, the acid molecules spread out into the air.  And as I learned many years ago in high school chemistry, those molecules will move more slowly and with less intensity if they are cold.  So I pop the onion into the refrigerator for five minutes before I cut it, and that helps a little.  In terms of getting the smell of the onion off your hands, the best thing I know is to take a half of a lemon, coat that open surface with salt and then rub that all over your hands.  It does a pretty good job.  If you don’t want to use half of a lemon you can take a cloth, soak it with some vinegar, and put the salt on that.  They’re not perfect systems, but they help. 

Now where were we? Okay --

Stir those onions for a moment and then mix in two cups of tomatoes that have been cut into small pieces.  These are about one-inch squares.  Next comes the fish.  Edgardo is using two pounds of local Chilean fish that he has cut up into steaks, with the skin left on and the bones still in.  That’ll add more flavor but also a lot more work when you start eating the dish.  My personal preference would be to remove the bones before the fish goes in or use boneless, skinless fish fillets cut into large chunks.  After the fish has been stirred in, the herbs and spices are added. A few bay leaves. A teaspoon of cumin, and two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.  The liquid used to cook all of those ingredients is made up of a half cup of wine and a cup of water, or fish stock, or chicken stock.  Chile is also a major wine producing nation and the use of a Chilean wine in this recipe will give it an authentic flavor.  If you don’t use wine in your cooking, you can just increase the water or stock.  The liquid goes into the pot and it’s brought to a boil.  Once that happens, two peeled and sliced potatoes are added.  The cover goes back on and everything cooks for ten minutes.  At that point the fish should be fully cooked.  The solid ingredients are spooned into individual serving bowls, some of the liquid goes on top.  A garnish of chopped fresh parsley... and an optional mussel.  The stew is ready to serve.   The EntreLagos sweetshop is in the middle of the town of Valdivia. And Valdivia is a classic example of the southern towns of Chile. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  It was founded by the Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia. Valdivia was an extraordinary man.  He came here from the north, crossing a desert... a desert so difficult to cross that even today, with the most modern technology, it’s still quite a challenge.  And Valdivia did it on horseback.  On one side of his horse he carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin.  On the other side rode his beautiful mistress Inez de Suarez.  What Valdivia was trying to do is the same thing that many of us are trying to do -- to balance our love of the pleasures offered in this world, with our hope for salvation in the next.  Valdivia showed up here in the summer of 1552,  which is only fitting, because the area has become a major summer resort.  But what really interested Valdivia was the same thing that interested the native tribes for thousands of years before Valdivia showed up.

This spot is at the crossroads of nine different rivers, sheltered from the open sea, and only a few miles up-river from the ocean.  It’s a perfect port town.  The same kind of ideal situation in relation to the sea that worked for London, or New York or Lisbon.  The Germans who immigrated to Valdivia during the 1800’s were not farmers.      For the most part they were professionals, craftsmen and scholars, with enough money to set up their own businesses.  The Hispanic community that was here when the Germans arrived were pleased to have them in their population and the two groups progressively fused together.  Today Valdivia is still a town of readers, thinkers and artists.  During the 1950s, Valdivia built its own university.  The work was done by the students and the faculty.  It was the idea of a local doctor who wanted to have a university in town and just made it happen.  In the early days the students and the faculty actually put the place together building by building.  Now it has 10,000 students and a thousand teachers.  There’s a general liberal arts program, a science department and an agricultural college, with a special division that just deals with milk and milk products.  Imagine going to school to study ice cream, I love it.  Ice Cream as a major, hot fudge as a minor.  The university also has one of the nation’s most interesting botanical gardens with an area totally devoted to the trees and plants that are indigenous to Chile.  Just across the river from the University is the city center.  Like all Chilean towns, there is a central plaza with a band that plays there on Sundays during the summer.  As you walk around town you get a good feeling of what urban life is like in the south of Chile.  There are strong family ties here and they are constantly expressed in the pattern of daily life.  There’s a street market that’s been at the same location for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Farmers come in from their fields and display their produce on the land side of the street.  Fishermen tie up their boats and display their catch on the sea side of the street.  At the end of the fish and produce stalls is a small area for local crafts.  Where the market ends, a promenade begins and runs along the riverfront for about a mile and a half.  It’s the place where people come to walk and talk and where I took my daily exercise march.  After which I took my gastronomic tour.  Haussmann’s Cafe is famous for its steak tartar.  Camino De Luna is a floating restaurant that is considered to have some of the best food in town.  And clearly the best view: it’s anchored along one of the nicest parts of the promenade.  The New Orleans is another local favorite.  For street snacks there are the cabritas stands. Cabritas is a form of sugar-coated popcorn that has a great local following.

For years Valdivia was one of the most important settlements in Spain’s New World.  The only problem with Valdivia was that the local Mapuche believed that the land here was part of the Mapuche Old World.  And in 1599, they destroyed all the Spanish settlements in the area.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For the next 200 years everybody was pretty much forced to agree that this was Mapuche territory.  Then in the 1700’s the Spanish decided to try and fortify their settlements on the west coast of South America, and they began building a series of forts.

This is one of those forts, and it is called the Castle of the Pure and Clean Conception.  It was built at the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the river that comes down from Valdivia.  It was actually started in the 1600s, but the real work took place in the late 1700s when the Spanish were getting nervous about the possibility of a war with England.  They also built a fort on the other side of the river so they would have a concentration of firepower in the center of the channel.  The records show that in 1767, the chief engineer, Juan Garland, came here and installed these huge ovens. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The ovens were used to heat cannonballs until they were red hot; then they would fire them at enemy vessels.  When they hit a canvas sail, the sail would burst into flame.  When they hit a wooden deck, the same thing would happen.  Sometimes they were hot enough to burn through the deck and the hull and actually sink the vessel.  The cannonball was called a “shot,” and when it came out of the oven it was called a “hot shot,” and that’s where we get the English phrase “hot shot” from.  Now, I don’t know if there’s any relationship, but the guy who installed these ovens a couple of hundred years ago was named Garland, and Garland is also the name of a major oven manufacturer in North America.  I’m gonna have to check that out when I get back.

When the Chileans talk about their Lake District, they almost always start with the natural beauty of the area and then follow up with stories of the German immigration.  But there’s quite a bit of Spanish history around here, these forts, and some great stories from the independence movement during which Chile won its freedom from Spain.  One of the best sea stories took place during the early years of the 1800’s. The local fleet that was loyal to the king of Spain was here in the port of Valdivia. The Chilean independence squadron was under the command of a British soldier of fortune named Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  He was kind of a freelance soldier of fortune who had to leave England because his love of independence was in conflict with the English king’s love of dependents.  One night he took his marines and, though he was outnumbered two to one, attacked all of the Spanish forts and ships in this area.  He took ‘em on, fort by fort, ship by ship and knocked them all out.  Cochran was almost single-handedly responsible for breaking the hold that Spain had on the ports of Chile. Back home in England, he had been attacked as foolish, rash, unnecessarily daring. He answered his critics by saying that “where calculation was well thought out, rashness disappeared.”  Good point in combat; also in cooking. If you’ve got a well thought out recipe, you’re home. 

And for a well thought out recipe for a great tasting apple crumb cake, we can pop back into the kitchen at EntreLagos. Chef Mauricio Peña starts by taking his favorite pie dough and rolling it out to a thickness of one quarter of an inch.  The technique he uses to make sure that he gets an even quarter of an inch, all over, is to set up two guide sticks, each of which is a quarter of an inch wide.  Then he puts the dough into the center between the guide sticks and rolls it out.  When the dough is rolled out, the chef uses the bottom of his loose-bottomed cake pan to measure a circle and cut the dough out to that size.  Then the bottom of the cake pan goes back into the pan and the disc of dough goes on top.  More of the dough is rolled out and cut into strips that have a width of one and a half inches.  These strips are used to line the insides of the baking pan.  They’re pressed together with each other to make a complete circle and then pressed together with the dough at the base.  Now you have the complete pastry crust for the cake.  Three ounces of apricot jam are painted onto the surface of the dough.  At this point the topping is made by putting three tablespoons of unsalted butter into a saucepan, adding in one quarter of a cup of sugar, and melting those two ingredients together.  Then, off the heat, a quarter of a cup of flour is blended in.  That’s the topping and for now it is set aside, while the filling is made.  Peeled and cored apples are cut into rough chunks until you have five cups’ worth.  Then they are tossed together with a quarter of a cup of sugar, a quarter of a cup of currants or raisins, a quarter of a cup of ground almonds, the zest of a lemon and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon.  When all those ingredients have been thoroughly combined, they are placed into the dough-lined baking pan.  Then a mixture is made from a half cup of flour, a quarter of a cup of sugar, a quarter of a teaspoon of salt, an egg, and a cup of milk.  This mixture is poured onto the apples, and the pan tilted to make sure it spreads out evenly.  Then the topping that was made from butter, sugar and flour returns.  It’s become rather brittle and the chef breaks it up to form the crumb topping.  Then it’s into a pre-heated 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  When it comes out, the crust is loosened by running a spatula around the edge between the crust and the pan. Then the cake comes out, and rather easily too, because we started with a loose bottom pan.  It’s sliced into eight pieces and it’s ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s our story from the Lake District of Chile.  Please join me next time as I jog around the world trying to burn off the calories that I gained making these reports.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Show-Pucon, Chile - #106

Chile... it has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscape in the world... and some of the friendliest people to welcome you to it.  The town of Pucon is the spot in the northern Lake District and people come here from all over the world. The local volcano is the permanent backdrop. There’s great fishing... And traditional home cooking.  So join me in Pucon, Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Pucon got started in 1883 as a military outpost and stayed that way for about twenty years.  During the early 1900’s a few German families immigrated into the neighborhood and set up a number of small businesses dealing in cattle and lumber.  From time to time someone would come here from Santiago and fish.  And like many fishermen, they displayed the result of their expedition but lost the precise details of exactly where it was that they made the catch.  Let’s face it, a really good spot for sport fishing is a trade secret.  And unless you’ve got something really good to trade for it, you can’t have it.  So the word about Pucon spread slowly.  By the 1920’s, however, enough fishing enthusiasts knew about the place to encourage the construction of a major hotel. In the early 30’s the Gran Hotel Pucon was built by the State Railway.  They also opened up a branch line to the area so people could get to their hotel easily.  In the 40’s Pucon became a summer hangout for Santiago’s artists and writers, and it still has some of that flavor.  There’S a big open town plaza.  A dozen or so establishments that will arrange for expeditions that will bring you into closer contract with nature.  You can go whitewater rafting, or just float down the stream.  There are treks into the mountains, and there’s a group that will take you right up to the edge of the local volcano, which is still active.

The original cooks in Chile were the Mapuche, which means “people of the earth.” Their family groups have lived in the land that is now called Chile for thousands of years.  They lived in huts that were moved from one area to another. The move allowed them to take advantage of the best hunting, fishing and gathering in each season.  But each of the areas that they moved to was considered part of their tribal lands.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The basic political and economic unit is the extended family, which can easily number over five hundred people.  The head of that family is called a Cacique, and his power and importance is based, not only on his material possessions, but on the quality of his wisdom, especially the way that wisdom is expressed in advice to younger people. 

The women of the group play a particularly important role as the heads of all things mystical.  A girl is identified during her childhood as having the necessary skills to be able to communicate with the gods, and she takes on that responsibility.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  They believe that all life exists in a perfect balance of positive and negative forces, similar to the ying and yang of Buddhism.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the key turning points in our history of food was our shift from hunting and gathering to the domestication and breeding of animals, and agriculture.  It appears to have taken place between seven and ten thousand years ago and it set the stage for a more dependable food supply, and the worldwide increase in population that has taken place ever since.

When it comes to meat and poultry, we are all very much aware of the farming techniques -- but the idea of a fish farm strikes many people as a new innovation, and that is not the case.  The Chinese have had fish farms for over four thousand years and there are paintings in the ancient tombs of Egypt that show fish farms in action over 2000 years ago.

The history of fish farming here in Chile, however, is a bit more recent.  The first Chilean fish farms were set up in 1981. The southern part of Chile has a coastline with the Pacific Ocean that is made up of Antarctic water coming from the bottom of the planet and glacial run-off from the ice in the Andes mountains... all of which is crisp, cold and free from the pollution of industrialized shores.  The perfect environment for raising salmon. So perfect that Chile has become the second most important salmon exporting nation in the world.  They produce Coho and King and Salmon trout.  A little over half the export harvest goes to Japan... Sushi from Santiago. What an international marketplace this world has become.  A third goes to North America and the rest to Europe.  In the States, a Chilean salmon travels from the net to the table in a U.S. restaurant within 48 hours.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And for guys like me, who are never going to be asked to do a guest appearance on “The Bass Fisherman Show,” having a dependable supply of high-quality fish in the market is very important.  You see, it’s not that I’m a bad fisherman; it’s just that I’m always put up against fish that have reached a higher skill level.  It doesn’t seem fair!

Well, life is not always fair, but often you can be dealt a tough hand and turn it around.  One of my favorite examples of a guy who really turned his life around is Guillermo Pollak.  He and his wife immigrated to Chile from Europe, and fell in love with an old hotel here in Pucon. They were somewhat short of funds to make the purchase on the property, so they approached an influential traveller who was passing through -- he just happened to be the President of Chile.

GUILLERMO POLLAK:  I told him that I would like to build something which is not yet here in Chile, not yet made in Chile, and I said to him frankly... it’s incredible.  I was a nobody and he was the president of the country.  And to plant yourself in front of the president and tell him that you are doing him a favor accepting his money, you see -- but that’s exactly what I told him.  It was just, it was just one fantastic day, beautiful day -- if it were, if it were raining he wouldn’t have come and Antumelal would not exist.  

Today the Hotel Antumelal is a small, rustic property, with rooms for only 40 guests, so everything is rather personal.  And that goes for the cooking too.  The restaurant is much more like a home dining room.  Very simple recipes.  There are three ranges in the kitchen... one electric... one wood... and one gas.  And, of course, the chef, Carmen Vargas, prefers the stove that uses wood.  She feels that it is more dependable.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the late Sixties I spent some time with a famous chef in London, who was in the process of renovating and modernizing a huge kitchen.  But he would not give up his wood-burning stoves.  He believed that the wood-burning stove made his young chefs pay more attention to what they were doing.  They had to gather wood, they had to watch the heat of the coals, they had to watch the level of the flames.  And paying attention to that made them pay more attention to everything else in the recipe, and the food turned out better.  So Carmen is working in a long and great tradition.

Today she’s is making a family recipe for Chilean Lentil Stew.  She starts by putting two cups of pre-cooked lentils into a stock pot. They get covered with four cups of boiling water to which she adds a half teaspoon of salt.  The cover goes on and the lentils simmer for about ten minutes while she continues the recipe.  Two tablespoons of vegetable oil go into a sauté pan.  Then a half cup of chopped onion.  A little cooking and a little stirring.  A clove of minced garlic.  A half teaspoon of oregano.  A quarter teaspoon of ground pepper.  A cup of carrots that have been peeled and chopped.  A minute of cooking and in goes a teaspoon of paprika.  Another minute of sautéing and that mixture is added to the stock pot. And as long as we’re putting things into the stock pot, Carmen adds two cups of pumpkin cubes, a cup of sausage chunks, and a cup of rice.  The cover goes on and everything simmers for twenty minutes.  About ten minutes in, you should check the pot to see if any more water is needed.  When the full twenty minutes of cooking are up, the stew goes into individual serving dishes and is garnished with some chopped chives, some grated parmesan cheese and some long chives.

The second dish that Carmen is going to prepare has a history that goes back for hundreds of years.  In its traditional form it is called a Curanto and it is one of the big-deal food events in southern Chile. The recipe starts with the digging of a large hole in the ground.  When the hole is large enough to accommodate the appetites of the people who are coming to dinner, it is filled with whatever seafood you have around, plus some smoked pork ribs, chicken, potatoes and nalca leaves.  The nalca is a native Chilean plant that is a member of the rhubarb family and grows wild throughout the southern part of the country.  The leaves often grow to a length of four feet.  Along with the general layering of these ingredients, you slip in a few hot rocks to do the cooking.  Finally, the nalca leaves become the pot cover.  Interesting, tasty, tricky to prepare in the average home kitchen.  So the Chileans came up with a recipe for Curanto in a pot, which they call Pulmai.

Start out by selecting a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients, and get it hot. Carmen, who appears to be preparing dinner for everybody who lives in a 25-mile radius, begins by dropping in two whole bulbs of garlic.  Next she pours in a bottle of white Chilean wine.  Now, what you are about to see reflects the selection of seafood that was available at the docks this morning.  But the ingredient list for the recipe is very flexible. In essence you can put in whatever seafood you like, and the quantities for all the ingredients are totally dependent on you palate and your pocketbook.  Now these little stones are called Picorocos; they are actually large sea barnacles, and they taste like the sweetest lobster meat. They were a great surprise to me when I first ate them. Look bad, taste good.  On top of the Picorocos go smoked pork ribs.  The Picorocos and pork ribs are kept on one side of the bottom surface.  On the other side of the bottom go a few chickens that have been cut into parts. The reason that half of the bottom is left open for the chicken is that Carmen wants the chicken to brown on the hot surface of the pan.  Next a few sausages, cut into chunks.  Clams.  Mussels.  Lots of whole potatoes.  A tablespoon or so of black peppercorns.  Some fish fillets.  In this case they are Chilean King Clip, which is available in North America and worth trying.  And now the top layer... leaves of Savoy cabbage, which are used to replace the nalca leaves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The real objective here is just to cover all the ingredients with the cabbage to hold the moisture in, and that’s done, and Carmen says it’s enough, but I really love Savoy cabbage so I’m gonna put it all in.

The final ingredient is a second bottle of white wine.  You know, Chile is a major producer of some great wines, and I see no need to pour all of the wine into the pot.  At this point a cloth is placed over the top of the pot as an additional seal for the cover, which goes on next. Then a few large bricks to hold the top down.  Of course, you could use a pot with a tight-fitting lid and skip the routine with the cloth and the rocks, but then you would lose so much of the “look”.  For the next two hours everything is steamed in the wine and the natural juices of the ingredients.

Southern Chile is one of the world’s great spots for sport fishing, so I thought I would treat myself to the experience.  The best way to get into the subject is with an experienced guide, which is a perfect description of  Roberto Navarrete.  He picked me up at my hotel and we drove together for about half an hour to a river where he thought I had the best chance of making a catch.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Well, Burt, I think we have a good place to, to change here, so we can use waders...

BURT WOLF:   Waiters?  I like that.  So lunch is coming. .. No, not those kind of waiters.  (Laughing)

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  No, you will wear these waders.

BURT WOLF:   Can I borrow these for Christmas?


BURT WOLF:   They’re just what I want to hang up in front of the fireplace.  [ROBERTO laughs]  Okay. 

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Put this on top of your jeans.

BURT WOLF:   Okay.  They feel like the Doctor Denton’s I used to wear when I was a baby.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  (Laughing)  These are easier than yours.

BURT WOLF:   They certainly are easier than mine!

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  You will be able to go further into the river with those.

BURT WOLF:   Is that good or bad?  (Laughter)  It’s like pantyhose for the outdoorsman.  I love this.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  If you tied it well, the sand will not enter into your, into the shoe.

BURT WOLF:   I hope the fish are going to as much trouble.  What do you think? 


BURT WOLF:   (singing)  “Lovely to look at, delightful to hold...”  All right.  What next?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  You have to put a fly on that rod.  Two types of lines, floating and sinking.  You will be using the floating line.  That means that we will work on the surface and we will work on the bottom of the river.

BURT WOLF:   Ah.  So one of us might catch something, huh?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  One of us may catch something, that’s right.  Here we have some selection of nymphs that could work well today.  We could do some fly-fishing on dry flies, but the water is still, at this time of the year, is still a little bit cold.  So we have to wait for dry-flies fishing.

BURT WOLF:   I’m ready.

Fly-fishing is a fascinating sport.  Here in Chile you end up in a beautiful, unspoiled, virtually untouched stream, surrounded by an extraordinary landscape. 

BURT WOLF:   It’s certainly a beautiful way to spend the day.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Lovely.  Now, stop there. 

BURT WOLF:   Okay.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  So I have to wear these Polaroid glasses because I can see better the different colors of the shallow and the deeper water.  So I can, I will know where to cast.

BURT WOLF:   What a great idea!

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  That’s why you need Polaroid.  Okay, since there’s a little bit, it’s windy, I will cast before and you’ll do it after.

BURT WOLF:   Okay, I’ll wait over here.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Maintain the line as high as you can; you have always to remember to have the arm stop here and never lower the tip of the rod.  You have to maintain the line as high as you can. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The serious angler knows a great deal about the fish’s eating habits:  what he likes to eat, when, where and how.  He also knows a great deal about the meal:  is it the kind of meal that floats on the top, sinks to the bottom, swims in the middle?  Fly-fishing is a lot like setting up a menu for a new restaurant.  You’d better have a very clear idea of who you expect to come to dinner, and how to prepare what he likes properly.

BURT WOLF:   That’s a lovely trout.

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  It’s a brown trout --

BURT WOLF:   Right --  I heard if you hold them over, they relax.

 ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  Yeah.  When you take them from the, the stomach --

BURT WOLF:   Right --

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  -- they will completely relax.  The brown trout.  The rainbow trout, you have to turn it upside down so they will relax like that -- the rainbows.  Not the browns.

Remember, this is a sport; if you’re only interested in having fish for dinner, you’re much better off in your supermarket.

BURT WOLF:   What do you think the biggest fish is you ever caught?

ROBERTO NAVARRETE:  This is funny because you know, a fish is the only animal that grows after he’s dead!  (Laughter)  But sometimes I’ve caught big fishes!

Well, if I can’t have fish for lunch, I think I’ll just head back to the hotel for something sweet. One of the original uses for pastry dough was as a container for other ingredients. In many of the English-speaking countries we call them turnovers and we make them with both sweet and savory fillings.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the most interesting uses that I’ve seen for a turnover was in an English mining town. Every morning the cooks would roll out a big piece of pastry dough, then they would take about a cup’s worth of sautéed meat and vegetables, put it into the center, fold it up into a pouch and bake it.  They would do the same thing with stewed fruits.  Then when the miners got ready to go off to work in the morning, they would take one of each; put one in one pocket and one in the other.  Then when they were working in the mines and they were hungry, lunch would be instantly ready, the main course and the dessert.  In countries like Austria and Hungary and the Slavic nations, you see lots of sweet turnovers.  In Italy, in the form of the Calzone, you find savory turnovers. 

Here in Chile, the turnover arrives under the title of Empanada and it is also a savory pocket.  However, here at The Hotel Antumalal in the town of Pucon, the owner’s middle-European background has shown its influence with an Empanada filled with fruit preserves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Actually, the entire responsibility for this recipe does not rest on the shoulders of Señora Pollak alone.  In 1968, the Queen of England came here for a visit.  And she asked for something with her native and beloved orange marmalade. Well -- this is what she got. And I understand she really liked it.

The pastry chef is Noelia Balboa, who has been working at the Antumalal since 1968.  She starts by setting two cups of orange marmalade into a sieve over a bowl and allowing most of the moisture to drain out.  A standard pie dough is rolled out onto a floured surface until you have a strip of dough that is about a foot and a half long and about six inches wide.  Heaping tablespoons of the drained marmalade are set out about two inches apart, just slightly above the mid-point of the dough. The bottom half of the dough is then folded over the top half and pressed down around the marmalade.  Then the area around the marmalade is cut into triangles that are about three inches to the side.  The excess dough is removed to be used again.  The rolling and stuffing and cutting process is repeated until all the dough is used up.  Then the triangles are transferred to a buttered baking sheet and painted with a little melted butter.  A little grated coconut... a spinkling of sugar, and into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for thirty minutes.  When they come out, they go onto a serving plate... get a little powdered sugar and they’re ready to serve.

The rose and the apple come from the same biological family, and both come with very powerful folklore and imagery.  So powerful that the rose has often been used as the symbol for all flowers and the apple as a symbol for all fruits. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 1500’s when explorers were constantly bringing back new fruits to Europe from the Americas, anything that was small and round and unrecognized was called an apple.  When the first potatoes showed up in France, they were called Pomme de Terre, “apples of the earth.”  When the first tomatoes showed up in Italy they were yellow and the Italians called them Pomodoro, “apples of gold.”  And when the Europeans began to colonize the New World and set up farms, one of the first crops that they plantedwas the real apple.

Here in Chile, apples are one of the most important fruit crops.  Almost fifteen percent of the country’s total fruit-growing land is given over to the production of apples, and as you would expect they have lots of apple recipes.  Here’s one for Chilean Apple Cake. Apples are peeled, cored, sliced and coarsely chopped into small pieces... about two cups’ worth.  Walnuts get chopped... about a cup full.  White raisins get chopped, also about a cup’s worth.  Then a cup of vegetable oil goes into a mixing bowl, followed by two cups of sugar and three eggs.  All of which is mixed together.  A half teaspoon of salt is added... then a little freshly grated nutmeg... and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Lots of mixing. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now this kitchen actually has a fabulous electric mixer, but since we used up all of the electric power for our lights, the kitchen staff decided that I should become The Mixer.

Once those those ingredients are fully blended, the chopped apples are mixed in... then a tablespoon of baking soda... the chopped walnuts... and the chopped raisins. More mixing. 

BURT WOLF:   Gracias.

As all that comes together two tablespoons of vanilla extract are added... and then four cups of all-purpose flour.  The flour goes in about a half cup at a time in order to avoid lumps.  Finally, two tablespoons of baking powder.  The batter is then turned out into a baking pan.  The batter gets smoothed out.  The pan is smacked on a surface to get out any air bubbles, and then placed into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour.  Just before it comes out an icing is made.  A half cup of plain yogurt is heated together with a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon and an ounce of butter. That’s mixed and simmered for ten minutes. Then it’s spread out on the cake.  As soon as it’s cooled, it’s ready.

The most dramatic element in the landscape surrounding the town of Pucon is the local volcano.  It is considered an active volcano, but sufficiently mellow to have become a major tourist attraction.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Scientists who study volcanoes tell me that volcanoes are formed as a result of plate tectonics.  There is a theory that the surface of the world is covered with giant sheets of rock which are called plates.  The rocks sit on top of a sea of partially-melted rock. But they don’t sit still; they float around, about a half inch to eight inches each year.  And as they float around, they bang into each other, rub against each other, or one plate will slide under another plate.  Most of the volcanoes that formed on land are the result of one plate sliding under another plate.  When that happens, an enormous amount of friction is created.  And the friction creates an enormous amount of heat... so much heat that it will melt rocks that are 50 to 100 miles inside the earth.

The melted rock is called magma, and it contains a great deal of gas.  From time to time the pressure of the gas and the magma are just too great and the whole thing blows its stack.  When the magma reaches the surface it is called lava.  The actual mountain is usually built up around the opening into the center of the earth by lava that has pushed out during the repeated eruptions.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Once the volcanic mountain is formed, however, the lava floes and eruptions don’t always take place at the top of the central vent.  It’s possible for the magma and gases to build up inside the mountain, and then explode through the sides.  Similar to the place where I’m standing now.

PRODUCER’S VOICE:  Hey, Burt!  Come back!  You’ve gotta  say goodbye!


Burt Wolf's Menu: Show-Patagonia, Chile - #103

Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America, is one of the most unspoiled parts of our world.  The government of Chile has set up a national park in Patagonia with over half a million acres.  It’s the perfect place to take a look at our natural environment. You can walk up to it, or it’ll walk up to you. Good food, fascinating history, friendly people.  So join me in Patagonia, Chile for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

As South America comes to its southernmost tip, it slowly trails off into the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean.  The final points of land that remain are the snow-covered peaks of the Andes mountain range as it descends to the ocean floor.  The first Europeans to see this part of the world were members of the crews that sailed with Ferdinand Magellan.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Magellan was a Portuguese nobleman who convinced the King of Spain to put up the money for a voyage of exploration.  Magellan believed that he could sail west from Europe, across the Atlantic, and find a passage to the Spice Islands. It was the same passage that Columbus had been looking for and failed to find.  Spices were still very valuable; worth their weight in gold, and the Spanish government did not have a sizable piece of that business.  So it gave Magellan the money and sent him off.

Magellan went south along the east coast of South America, and on October 21, 1520 his lookouts spotted an opening along the shore.  Magellan took his fleet of five ships and headed in.  As they moved through the straits, they saw a series of campfires and marked the area on their charts as Tierra del Fuego, “Land of Fire.”  The place is still known by that name.  Walls of snow-capped mountains lined the passage.  They spent 38 days in the straits and sailed over 300 miles.  And then on the 28th of November, 1520, his squadron slid past the last of the rocks and out into the great ocean that he had dreamed of.  The day was so perfect and the sea so peaceful that Magellan named it the ocean Pacifico.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  That ocean is still called the Pacific and the straits through which he passed bear the name Magellan.  Magellan is also the basis for the name of the southernmost province of Chile; it’s called Magallanes and it contains some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.

Chile’s Patagonian pampas is a form of desert, a desert not made of drifting sand but a desert of low vegetation.  The English scientist Charles Darwin found the dry plains of Patagonia to be one of the most haunting and impressive regions on Earth. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  A number of people have tried to discover what it was about this area that fascinated  Darwin.  And I think I agree with the theory that to pass through Patagonia slowly will bring you in touch with an extraordinary calmness.  And the constant wind is like the white sound of the universe.

The first Europeans to settle in this part of Chile were the employees of British-owned sheep companies.  In 1877 a Mr. Henry Reynard brought a flock of sheep from the Falkland Islands to test the business.  And what a business it turned out to be.  The land produced lots of healthy sheep, and the sheep produced lots of excellent wool. Gigantic farms called estancias were set up with their administration placed in the hands of executives from England and Scotland.  Within a few years Patagonia looked like a part of the British Empire.  But it didn’t sound that way, because everyone spoke Spanish.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Patagonia’s major southern city, Punta Arenas, got wealthy as a port, and the inland estancias made fortunes for their owners raising sheep.  But when the Panama Canal was opened, Punta got passed over as a port.  It was a lot easier to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa through the Panama Canal rather than around the tip of South America.  And when the sheep farmers in Australia and New Zealand began competing, the price of wool and lamb around here just dropped away.  Things were looking pretty bleak.  Then in 1945, petroleum and natural gas were discovered, and that helped.  It was also the time that a big fishing industry was developed.  And in the 1950’s the federal government marked off a giant national park.  Today this area has one of the highest per capita incomes in Chile,  and many economists believe that the Chilean economy is one of the fastest-growing and safest in the world.

The business of raising sheep for wool still goes on, and it’s quite a thing to see.  The sheep are brought in from the fields under the direct control of sheep dogs.  The sheepherder’s whistle tells the dogs what to do.  The length and tone of each whistle contains specific instructions for the dogs.  The herders are like the ultimate coaches signaling their plays. The sheep are brought into the pens and sorted by age.  Once the dogs have gotten the sheep inside the building where the shearing takes place, the dogs get a break.  The wool is removed from the sheep by men who are masters of the craft.  Many have come over from the nearby island of Chole where sheep shearing is a skill that has been passed down from generation to generation for well over a hundred years.  They travel from one ranch to another during the shearing season.  They are the Vidal Sassoons of sheepdom -- if the sheep don’t look good, they don’t look good.  The wool that comes off is in three pieces. The two large sections are spread out on a work table and checked.  Any sections that are not up to standard are removed.  The remaining wool is then set into a giant press and formed into rectangular blocks. The blocks are tied into bales and rolled out for shipment. Most of this wool will go off to mills in England.  Once this was the most important industry in Southern Chile. Today it is really a very small craft that is still carried on more for its value as tradition than anything else.

These days, the most impressive reason to travel to the Magallanes region of Chile is the Torres del Paine National Park.  Paine is a native tribal word for “blue,” and Torres means “towers.”  The particular towers in question are the peaks that stand near the end of the chain of the Andes mountains, and the blue is a reference to the waters of the area’s many lakes.   The park was originally set up in 1959 and was designated a Biosphere reserve by the United Nations in 1978.  This is nature at its most untouched.  Grey glacier pours out of a mountain pass and breaks up into huge blocks of blue ice that float into Lago Grey. And you can walk right up to the edge of the action.  Beautiful waterfalls crop up every few miles, and views of the snow-tipped mountains are everywhere.  During the summer months, the fields are filled with wildflowers.  Since all this is in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer months are December, January and February.  The park is also home to a considerable amount of wildlife.  Guanacos wander along the roads and seem to be totally unfazed by the arrival of human beings.  Andean condors glide above the ridges looking for dinner, and sheep constantly sample the grass.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The thing to do in this park is walk.  There are over 150 miles of walking trails and the serious walker who can cover about 20 miles a day, can complete the circuit in about seven days.  The rough and ready carry backpacks, sleep in tents or little shelters set up by the National Park Service at key points. The less rough stay in one of the five hotels that are in the park, but they cover the same ground. They do it by being driven out to the starting point in the morning, yake their hike, and get picked up by bus in the afternoon.  Now I’ve always had great respect for “rough and ready”, as a concept.  But on a day-to-day basis, “rough” has become less and less attractive to me. So I’m spending my days in the park at an unusual hotel.  Always ready, never rough.

It’s called the Hotel Explora and it sits right on a cliff next to a waterfall on the Rio Paine River, right smack in the center of the park.  Permission to construct the hotel was awarded to the owners after they won an international competition conducted by the Chilean Forest Service.  They had to come up with a design that did not conflict with the natural beauty of the environment.  From the outside it’s a simple white clapboard structure.  It looks like it could be the totally functional outpost for an Antarctic expedition.  But once you get inside there is pampering in Patagonia.  Directly inside the front door are a series of wooden lockers that are used by the guests to store their outdoor clothing and hiking gear, and the lockers are heated.  The public space has an open curving flow that feels like the inside of an elegant private yacht. The construction materials were all selected to go along with the natural feeling of the park.   Local woods, slate, native rock.  And everywhere, windows that face out on the spectacular wilderness.  There are only 30 rooms and each has an interesting view of the surroundings.  My room looked out on the Cuernos del Paine, one of the most dramatic peaks in the area.  That’s the view when you sit on the bed.  That’s the view when you sit at the desk.  And to make sure that you never miss that view, the architect has cut a hole in the wall of the bathroom, and that’s the view when you sit in there.  For those more modest moments there is a little set of blinds on the window that separates the bathroom from the bedroom.  The exercise facilities are set in a building that’s on the edge of a lake.  The lap pool is on the same level as the lake so even though you are sheltered in the warmth of the building you feel like you are swimming outside. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The hotel’s guides speak English, French, Spanish and German, and they will arrange for daily outings.  You can take a nature walk... do some serious hiking...  there’s horseback riding and mountain biking.  Or you can find a really comfortable spot, relax,  and just take it all in.

Including a few meals that are reflective of the local cooking.  The chef at Explora is Orlando Vicencio and today he is preparing a dish of local lamb.  He starts by heating a stock pot over a medium flame.  Then in go three tablespoons of vegetable oil. As soon as the oil is hot, in go two pounds of lamb cut into bite-sized pieces. Now there’s a phrase I’ve always wondered about.  Exactly, whose bite was that anyway?  How about one-inch squares for a more precise description.  The lamb is stirred and browned on all sides.  Then in goes a tablespoon of curry powder. A half teaspoon of ground black pepper. A cup of coarsely-chopped onion, followed by a chopped clove of garlic.  Some stirring and about two minutes of cooking.  Then a medium-sized cucumber cut in small pieces.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Ah, cucumbers.  Now there’s an  old pal.  Scientists have carbon-dated cucumbers at 8000 B.C. in cultivated gardens.  We also know that they were around at the time of the ancient Romans.  Epicus, a big- deal food authority, used them in his recipes.  And he wanted cucumbers that were sweeter and sweeter.  In an effort to please him, his gardeners dipped their cucumber seeds into honey, before they planted them.  Seemed like a good idea at the time... Cucumbers got their own start in eastern India or Thailand, which would make them a logical inclusion in a curry like this.

Next a little salt. A half cup of red wine. A cup’s-worth of potatoes peeled and cut in small pieces.  The chef held the potatoes in water to help keep them from discoloring. After you have cut a potato, air can turn the surface brown. Holding them under water helps avoid that problem. Next, a tablespoon of flour. Two minutes of stirring and heating. The flour needs to be cooked through. Then everything simmers for twenty minutes and it’s ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Interesting historical mixture in that pot.  You’ve got lamb from the days when southern Chile was covered with giant ranches raising sheep. You’ve got potatoes which are indigenous to South America.  And you’ve got curry that was brought here from Asia by Portuguese and Spanish traders.

And there’s also some rather interesting local history that connects up with a couple of guys from the U.S.  Some time after their robbery of the First National Bank in Winnemucca, Nevada, in September of the year 1900, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, along with the beautiful but deadly Etta Place, headed off to South America.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  At one point they ended up here in Patagonia and appear to have spent five rather peaceful years, running a country store.  They played at being good neighbors and eventually became respected members of the community.  But then, when things got boring and their cash ran low, they returned to their old and evil ways. 

In 1905, they started robbing banks again.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Two years of their old tricks and the place was getting too hot. The Pinkerton agency was working with the local police and it was just a question of time, and not too much time at that, before they would be under attack or under arrest.  So they headed out -- but before they did, they sold their holdings to a beef company.  Which brings us to a recipe.

It’s for Chilean Beef Stew, and it starts with the chef at Explora putting a stock pot over medium heat and pouring in three tablespoons of vegetable oil.  As soon as the oil is heated he puts in two pounds of beef chuck that has been cut into cubes.  Then two cloves of minced garlic.  The chef browns the beef on all sides, then adds in a green bell pepper that has been cored, seeded and cut into strips. At the same time in goes a red bell pepper that’s been cored, seeded and cut into strips. And finally a carrot that has been cut into strips, but not seeded or cored.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Carrots are one of the very first foods in the human diet. Anthropologists tell us that prehistoric man was eating carrots.  They appear to have gotten started in Afghanistan and moved out from there.  We find carrots mentioned in the ancient Greek recipes, about 500 B.C. But they are not native to the New World, so they were obviously brought here to Chile by early colonists.  On the other hand, the potatoes which are gonna go into that pot in a few seconds are part of the New World and indigenous to this area.  They were brought to Europe by the first explorers.  Obviously a recipe like this could not have taken place until the Europeans got here and began exchanging food with the native tribes.

The carrots are cooked and stirred for two minutes, at which point he adds a cup of sliced onions. A few more minutes of cooking and the corn goes in.  These are pieces of frozen corn on the cob that have been cut into rounds about an inch long. There are about two cobs in this recipe.  Then a cup of green beans cut into pieces that are about an inch long. Great color in there.  A little salt. A little stirring.  And then four cups of beef or chicken stock.  A cup of uncooked rice and then eight small potatoes that have been peeled.  The cover goes on and everything simmers together for about a half-hour.  At that point the beef stew is ready to serve. It’s presented in a bowl with some chopped fresh parsley and cilantro on top.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that completes the recipe and I wish I could complete the story of Butch and Sundance with the same clarity.  But there’s a lot of conflict as to how they actually ended up.  One story has them being killed by local soldiers in South America.  Another story, however, says they went into hiding just outside of New York City. Butch’s sister, however, has gone on record saying that Butch showed up in her place in Circleville, Ohio in 1925 to have blueberry pie.  Must have been some blueberry pie.  She thinks that Butch died in the late 1930’s in Washington State.

Well, I don’t seem to be able to come up with the recipe for the blueberry pie that brought Butch Cassidy to his sister’s place, but I have got a Cheesecake that is clearly worth coming home to.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Cheesecakes have been around for thousands of years.  The ancient Romans made cheesecake, and it looks like every society between now and then that had cheese used it to make some kind of cake. It’s one of those universally good ideas. As soon as you have the ingredients you invent the recipe. 

The pastry chef at Explora is Nelson Acosta. He starts his recipe by taking a standard pastry dough and rolling it out so that it will fit into a 12-inch round baking pan.  He makes sure that both the surface of the table he is working on and the surface of his rolling pin are lightly dusted with flour so the dough doesn’t stick to either of them.  Then he rolls the dough over his pin to make it easier to lift and then unrolls it over the loose bottom of the loose-bottom cake pan.  The bottom was lightly buttered before the pastry went on.  Then he trims off the excess edge of the pastry and puts the pastry into a 350 degree pre-heated oven for eight minutes.  When it comes out, it goes onto a work surface to cool. While it’s cooling, he makes the filling.  Two pounds and three ounces of cream cheese go into an electric mixer and is mixed for two minutes to soften the texture.  Then in goes two cups of sweetened condensed milk. A moment’s pause to scrape the batter down from the sides of the mixing bowl and in go four egg yolks, one at a time.  Next, the zest of a lemon.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 700’s the Moors controlled most of Spain and they planted the first lemon trees in the area.  When the Spanish came over and colonized the New World, they brought their lemon trees here.  The zest of a lemon is the ideal flavoring agent.  It contains a concentration of the lemon’s essential oils, and that has most of the flavor. As a matter of fact, you will get more flavor from the zest of the lemon than you will from lemon juice.  But remember, use just the outside yellow zest; the white connective tissue right underneath is quite bitter.

Following the lemon zest is a cup full of raisins.  The batter continues to be mixed while the chef beats four egg whites until they are stiff, at which point they are added to the batter, a spatula’s worth at a time.  When the egg whites are fully incorporated, the batter is complete. Then the pie crust that was baked on the bottom of the loose-bottom cake pan is set into the a ring and the batter is poured in.  Then the cake pan goes into a pre-heated 325 degree oven for an hour.  When it comes out it is loosened from the walls of the pan with a knife and lifted out.  Then it’s freed from the base and gently transferred to a cake stand.  A piece of paper goes onto the top of the cake.  It has been cut into the shape of the nearby mountains. Then some powdered sugar goes on to mark the outline. The paper pattern is removed. And the mountains stand out. They are the Torres Des Paine that stand just outside the hotel windows.  A mountain of a recipe.

During the 1700’s, horses, bulls, and cows that had escaped from the large estates of South America roamed freely over the great Pampas. They were unhindered by most predators and bred into enormous herds.  Eventually, a group of men came together to hunt these animals for the traders.  They were called Gauchos. They were usually mestizos, a mixture of European and native ancestry, and they hunted with lassos, knives, and a piece of equipment called a bola. The bola is made of a series of leather strips with three iron balls on the ends.  The gaucho would throw the bola at the animal he was chasing. The balls would twist around the animal’s legs and bring it to a halt.  For a time the Gauchos had also been the backbone of the armies that fought for independence against the Spanish Crown.  By the end of the 1800’s, however, most of the Pampas had been fenced off to make large ranches and farms. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The wild herds were taken in, and sophisticated breeding techniques began to control their development. The old frontier died away and the Gauchos ended up being hired as handlers. 

They’re still around and still wearing their traditional clothing.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Just after the great days of the Gauchos came to an end, a wave of nostalgia splashed over a group of South American writers and they began to present the Gaucho as a mythic hero of the Pampas. Must have been the same wave that inundated a group of North American writers who began to do just about the same thing, at about the same time, to the North American cowboy.  So frustrating to become a folk hero after the good days are over.  Most of us would like to be appreciated while we’re still enjoying ourselves.

[Gaucho song, in Spanish]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s our report from the Patagonia of Chile and one of the world’s most dramatic national parks.  You know, every time I get to a place like this I’m reminded of how magnificent our planet really is... and how easy it would be to destroy it in the name of progress.  The Chilean government is protecting over 600,000 acres here, and people come from all over the world to see and enjoy it.  And I hope you’ve enjoyed the small part that we’ve been able to show you. I’m Burt Wolf.