One of the reasons I really enjoy a Broad Escapes tour are the cultural options that are provided. I just had the most lovely day visiting a market and a local family in Puerto Varas – and I appreciate the opportunity (through the connection with G Adventures on the ground).
The day began meeting our high energy and full of personality local guide, Alessandra. She made such an impression on all of us that many people have offered to their homes as places for her to stay if she makes it to Canada for a visit in future!
We began with a short drive to nearby Puerto Montt, where most people in this area work. It is also right on the Pacific Ocean, so the market is a real hub with local fish and produce. We spent about an hour going through the market, with Alessandra leading the way.
I love getting the feel for a place, and markets are a great way to do that. We began by watching preparation of a barnacle, and we all got to try one (surprisingly delicious, like a firm white fish).
Then, we got to see a sea urchin close up, along with a jar of its organge meat. I still have never tried this… so it remains on my bucket list (preferably prepared at some amazing restaurant someday).
Then we hit the produce area, and I picked up some smoky chile spices (spoiler alert for David!). I think my entire bag will smell of this by the end of tour, the aroma is that strong! We also learned about a local traditiion for smoking and drying mussels and hanging them for future use in soups, etc., and we also saw some interesting dried kelp.
Following our market visit, we drove back to Puerto Varas for the most charming lunch. We met a local family (son Pablito going to university in Santiago soon, and 8-year-old twins Laura and Nicole who lit up the visit).
Lunch was what this stop was all about, and Poppy was the star of the day, making a local Curanto. This traditional dish was made in the ground with layers of mussels and clams, chicken and pork sausage, more pork and potatoes, and a gnocchi-like potato mash that is cooked in plastic wrap. Of course, today Poppy made it in one large pot… it smelled and tasted amazing!
My favourite parts of the meal were the mussels (so fragrant and delicious) and the broth that came out after (reminded me of a salty miso, only better).
We also tried a couple of other interesting dishes – their version of Salsa (Pevre) and a drink made out of wine and pineapple sorbet. The view from their house of the volcanoes was spectacular and we all gathered outside after the amazing meal to enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company.
For me, the highlight of this day was spending time with the lovely Laura and Nicole. They speak perfect english (they are home schooled and one of their parents is from North America). They showed us a fun game that included hand clapping, rock/paper/scissors and the splits, a card trick and I had a lot of fun sitting with them (and their two young neighbours) as they explained their lego grand hotel to me.
I definitely made a couple of new young friends, and we had big hugs when we left. And bless them for asking how old I am (45) and reacting with shock and dismay! “We thought you were 30 or 35” they said, “Yes, I know,” I said. “You look like our Auntie,” Nicole said. So sweet!