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Guide to Chile’s Cuisine from Paila Marina to Lucuma

Filled with the culinary heritage of immigrants from both Europe and around the Pacific Rim, Chile has a wonderful eclectic cuisine with something for everybody’s tastes. The native Mapuche introduced traditional ingredients as corn, potatoes and beans. Spanish took care of the ‘European’ veggies, think of onions, peas, meat and a broad range of herbs and spices. The blend of those influences made Chile’s cuisine to what it is today. Though there is of course a natural emphasis on top quality seafood due to its geographical location, beef and lamb are popular dishes as well. Here are some typical dishes to definitely try out during a tour to Chile.

Paila Marina

A thick fish soup made with different kinds of cooked shellfish and fish and spiced with herbs, that kind be found anywhere in Chile. A Paila is a baked clay bowl that is used to serve the dish, which immediately explains the first part of the name of this well-known Chilean dish. And the ‘Marina’ is of course related to the amount of marine life that is included in the recipe. Find the Paila Marina recipe here, if you want to try it at home.

Paila Marina Chile


Known as “eggfruit” in English, this native Chilean fruit has a dry flesh, not unlike in texture to a hard-boiled egg. It has very distinct and fresh flavor of maple and sweet potato. It’s also one of the most popular ice cream flavors in Chile and the best tours to Chile have to include at least one cone of lúcuma ice cream.

Lucuma Chile


A Native American dish from the pre-Columbian era, humitas are common throughout South America. The Chilean version is made from dough filled with corn, onion, basil and butter. Then they are wrapped in the corn leaves and baked. Served either sweet with added sugar or hot with chili pepper and tomato, they make a great filling snack or fast meal at any time of the day


Made from layers of shell fish, meat, potatoes and vegetables, covered with rhubarb leaves and prepared in a hole in the ground. This hole is covered by very hot stones on top of it which function like a big pressure cooker. Originally from the islands in Chiloé Province, it’s popular throughout southern Chile. It is also made in stew pots for a less time consuming preparation and is then known as Pulmay.

Curanto Chile

Tortilla de rescoldo

The traditional bread of travelers around Chile, like herders and huntsmen.  Unleavened bread that is based on wheat flour and was originally baked on the still warm coals of the nights campfire in the morning before setting off again.

This a selection of several typical Chilean dishes, there are of course hundreds of other typical dishes that can be eaten in Chile. From corvina, machas a la parmesana, cazuelas, pasteles to typical Chilean deserts like flan and mote con huesitos. Thanks for visiting our South America Travel Blog and feel free to contact one of our Travel Specialists via email, phone or chat to plan your perfect Chile travel itinerary.

Image credits: Flickr Avodrocc, Infomofo, Paul Lowry & _Koba_.