Chile’s Traditional Food
Pablo Neruda’s Oda al Caldillo de Congrio (Ode to Conger Eel Soup) is a recipe in verse that lingeringly savours each step in making this rich and fragrant soup from the “giant eel with snow-white flesh.” Flavoured with potatoes, onion, and garlic, this is one of Chile’s most traditional and best-loved dishes. The poet was mistaken on one count: congrio isn’t – despite the common belief in Chile – an eel at all, but a fish known internationally as kingclip. But Neruda’s ode – as do the many others he wrote about the simple joys of Chilean food – makes no mistake about the satisfying pleasure of a steaming bowl of caldillo, especially on a cold winter day. Congrio, with its springy white flesh, is also popular frito (fried), when it is traditionally served with ensalada chilena (a salad of sliced tomato and blanched onions).