Yup, you heard it right, pumpkins do have more uses than just your Halloween decorations and puree for your Thanksgiving pies. After three months of living with a family that threw sliced pumpkin into every stew imaginable, I grew to love the way it tasted in the warm broth, the consistency of a sweet potato but just a touch sweeter. My elevating appreciation for the squash species hit a high note in Chile.
Given my empty stew-bowl liking of the pumpkin I’d eaten in my home stay, it wasn’t shocking that a fried version of my new favorite fruit, the sopaipilla, was devoured in a matter of seconds.
On a quick visit to Santiago, Chile, four of my friends and I decided that the free walking tour, Tours4Tips— I would highly suggest taking this tour if you ever find yourself traveling through Santiago, it was phenomenal— would be the best idea for our rapidly depleting end-of-study-abroad bank accounts. The tour titled “Santiago Offbeat” featured the humble and everyday parts of Santiago, notably the large open-air markets and General Cemetery. Before heading into Santiago’s own subway system, we stopped at an outdoor vendor and their cart alongside a fresh produce market. I only wish I had taken a picture of this vendor’s cart that was filled to the brim with fried pumpkin pastry ovals and an endless row of sauces to top displayed in little plastic cups. Courtesy of Tours4Tips (free food!), the whole tour was given a complimentary sopaipilla and access to the various toppings.
Though sopaipillas vary from place to place, as do their toppings, ours was of the Chilean variety meaning the pastry was made from pumpkin and the garnishes were either sweet with a chancaca sauce or spicy with a pebre sauce. As a lover of spicy foods, I immediately doused my sopaipilla in the pebre sauce made out of onions, tomato paste, herbs, garlic, and ground aji peppers. Giving the fried dough just a little kick with the aji, the pebre was an unforgettable topping. Since being back in America, I’ve actually whipped up a sauce using just those ingredients to add on sandwiches and eat chips with, replacing the aji for hot sauce to match the level of spice.
Deliciously crunchy and tasty, the sopaipilla was a great introduction to Chile and a good look at the diverse and flavorful gastronomy available all throughout South America. Again, if you ever find yourself in Chile, it is a must-eat.
End note: After a month-long holiday hiatus, I’ve come back to The Good Stuff. There’s still a couple entries I have from South America that I never wound up posting so the next few will be of Latin cuisine. Moving on to the future, I will be posting more food recipes of all varieties that I will be making week in and week out while at Davidson and back home in Washington. If you go to Davidson and have a kitchen with some bakeware/cooking ware, please e-mail me as I’m looking for a place to whip up some good stuff. Hope you guys enjoy this post on the Chilean Sopaipilla! Eat and be happy!