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At the End of a Long Drive

Shreesh and Neena Taskar

We didn't make the decision, the decision made us. On October 20th, 2007, we left our comfortable city of San Francisco to follow a simple algorithm - go North till the road ends then turn around and then go as far South. In between those two points was the stage, the timeline, the space, where we made things happen and things happened to us.

The past is fleeting and the stories, the sights and the feelings are perishable. One sees what one wants to see, and perhaps we are not capable of more. We saw that people are kind and helpful even if they were not materially rich. Some we could understand even though we didn't speak the same language, the motivations of others were incomprehensible even though we did. In the end fragments remain - the smell of roasting chocolate, a flock of snow Ptarmigians on snow, the creaking of the rainforest, the rough feathers of penguins, and the intoxication of Curanto.

So these are our stories. Every time you visit the site you will see a random post below. Each starts with Lo que pasa es que...

Searching for Curanto

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What to do with a mountain of seafood?  (Map this!)

What do you do with a “mountain” of “mariscos”? You dig a hole in the ground, heat up some stones and dump the shellfish on top, add spicy sausage or longaniza, chicken and pork for good measure and potatoes just because you grow a hundred different varieties, then cover it all up with the local Nalca leaves and steam it for a couple of hours. The “curanto” is now ready to be enjoyed with a glass of Chilean wine.

The “curanto” is a chilote speciality, from the island of Chiloé. Blessed with many types of clams, mussels and the really strange piura, the Chilotes have found this admirably simple method of cooking seafood. Before tasting it, I would never have believed that mussels and clams could be cooked for hours and taste anything better than carbonized lumps. But this method of slow cooking gives it a rich, creamy texture that we have never tasted in them before.


For a higher resolution video click here

After having visited Chiloé once before and tried the curanto, we couldn’t resist returning to try it one more time, this time arriving in enough time to watch the complete preparation from the beginning. This video traces the path of the curanto from the “oven” to the table.

In the video, we see “chapalele” and “milcao” being added to the curanto. We could not capture the explanation on tape, but here it is. “Milcao” is potatoes grated and mixed with pork rind or “chicharon” and “chapalele” is mashed potatoes mixed with flour. These are wrapped in plastic to prevent dirt from getting in them and added to the whole delicious mix.

For a related post on Chiloé, click here.