I thought it was time that I finally try to capture the true essence of Curanto (it deserves to be capilatized). This is an infinitely difficult task, and I am fully aware that I probably won’t be able to give this ambrosial delicacy the conclusive write-up that it’s due, but I had to try. I felt like I owed the three daring souls who tried this comida tipica de Chile something for at least trying the stuff. If anyone else is at all familiar with Curanto, feel free to let us all know what your experience was like…I’d hate to slander this dish having only witnessed what it’s capable of on one occasion.
Curanto, is indeed one of the most well known typical foods of Chileans, especially those living within close proximity to the coast (which arguably is the entire country). When translated into English, Curanto means “Chilean meal of mystery meats that we fool the tourists into eating”. Actually, it doesn’t have a translation, but if it did, that would be pretty close. It really is an entire pot full of mysterious looking shellfish (clams, mussels, and many more), claws (seafood or small sloth?), pork chops (3 whole), turkey legs (3), potatoes and various floating chunks of white, pink, and slightly off-white items (once again meat?). Now I know what you’re thinking, something like “how in the world would anyone in their right mind order something like that?”. Well, it’s a lot easier than you think when the menu is in Spanish, with many unknown words signifying various types of meats (mentioned above) and when all the Chileans that we have met have told us that it’s muy rico. Looking back, we should have known that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be when the waiter (who would later give me a fake 5mil bill…grrr) told us that it wasn’t very pleasing to the eyes, but very good. Hindsight I guess.
Anyways, Luke, Tyler, and Emily decided to go in on the Curanto for 3 people together and give a shot…you only live once, right? Well, I’m not sure if any of them will ever use that phrase again. It was that bad. When the waiter brought out the steaming pot of assorted mystery shellfish, with 3 large pork chops sitting on top and turkey legs sticking out randomly, they all realized that this was no ordinary food dish. To their credit, they all tried a little bit of everything….and kept it down, even if it found its way out in record timing. I should note here that Luke ate Curanto within 6 hours or so of boarding a plane for the 12+ hour flight back to Seattle. I think that he would recommend that unless you enjoy living on the edge (or flying bathroom class) you don’t do the same. Once again, lessons learned.
During lunch/dinner, the Curanto provided endless entertainment for all. I thought it was funny on how eventually, all 3 of the Curanto connoisseurs basically were taking various types of food out of the big pot, peeking inside, sticking a fork into the meat and then putting the entire thing in their “already eaten” pile. I don’t think it fooled anyone though. The meal finally came to a close when someone commented on how different the insides of 2 clams looked, despite the fact they had the same shell…think light pink vs. liver pâté. That was the final straw. That and the fishing line type substance found inside another shellfish someone was “eating”.
In the end, we determined that Curanto is most likely all the scraps that have been lying around the kitchen during the past week, that they have saved in a pot and when there are people adventurous enough to try this thing called Curanto, they simply throw it in the oven with some saltwater, and bam!...Curanto. So, thank you Tyler, Luke, and Emily for allowing the rest of us to live vicariously through you and your experience with Curanto.
And that guys, is the best I can do…I think if I had actually tried the stuff I could probably written a novel about the entire experience that Oprah would recommend to millions who need help loosing weight…if only I had tried it…