Dieciocho en Chile

If you follow any other Chile blogs (and if you don’t, why not check out my blog roll?) you’ve probably already figured out that this past weekend was full of celebration here in Chile. September 18th is celebrated as “Fiestas Patrias,” which basically translates into “patriotic parties”. It’s often referred to as Chile’s independence day, which isn’t quite true. September 18, 1810 marked the day of the first meeting of the junta that started the long independence process, formalized in April 1818. In fact, there’s debate about the true year of Chile’s bicentennial, but it will officially be celebrated in 2010. September 19 is also a holiday – since when I don’t know, so if anyone wants to provide more background in the comments that’d be great – honoring the armed forces with a loooong parade in Parque O’Higgins, a park in the center of Santiago. Enough history, let’s get to the good stuff.

The week surrounding these two holidays – the entire period is generally referred to as “dieciocho” (eighteen) – is one of the most fun times to live in Chile. You’ve got two national holidays, which if they fall in the middle of the week mean everyone takes a “sandwich” and just misses the extra day preceeding or following them, where the whole point is to eat meat and get drunk. People do sometimes dance the cueca or dress like huasos, but for the most part the idea is just getting together with friends and family and enjoying yourself. Chilean asados (barbecues) tend to follow the same format, and it’s a good one. Start with choripanes (chorizo or longaniza sausage in a mini-baguette-type roll) covered in mayonese and pebre (chopped tomato, onion, chili and cilantro). For 18, you’ll probably also have some empanadas de pino, filled with a beef and onion mixture, plus one black olive and one slice of hard-boiled egg. Continue with some big hunks of meat first cut into little bite-sized bits to pass around, then cut into portion-sized pieces when it’s all ready – no individual veggie burgers here. Sometimes there will be chicken or pork, but beef is a must. Salads tend to be chilena (tomato and onion), papas mayo (potato with mayonese), corn with mayonese (Chileans love their mayo), lettuce and cabbage – each served individually. Grab a glass of soda, beer, Chilean wine or – for the really festive – chica, a semi-fermented kind of pre-wine. Dig in and eat til you think you’ll burst.

It’s important to remember that it’s springtime in Chile. So enjoying a backyard barbecue is extra nice, and everything is just a bit more festive. On Wednesday we had a company barbecue with another company, and they are officially invited to all of our future events because they were ridiculously organized and had lots of delicious food and drink. That afternoon, Rodolfo, Lola and I got out of town with Kyle, her man and their puppy to enjoy a couple days at her in-laws’ gorgeous house out toward the coast. Let me tell you, very little beats all that good food I just mentioned combined with time off work, great company and some spring sunshine in an idyllic setting. You can see some pictures of Kyle’s family enjoying the weekend up at her blog now, or wait and you’ll be able to see our own little family photo shoot at the beach. Because we were busy enjoying doing absolutely nothing, I didn’t even touch my computer until last night. It’s good to disconnect sometimes, don’t you think? Now I’m back with lots of ideas for posts and recharged batteries!

2 Responses to “Dieciocho en Chile”

  1. weezermonkey says:

    I feel too disconnected when I disconnect. 😉

  2. I am so glad you guys had fun. Isn’t it great to totally disconnect? And I have to say, it actually made me more productive. I got more done today than I have in a LONG time.

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