Wish you were here

My adventures in Chile begin.

Greetings from Santiago, Chile. I'm traveling with a group of food writers and editors—and one chef—on a culinary tour sponsored by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. I'll be sharing photos, stories and, I hope, some videos upon my return. As I write this, I've just returned from an interesting afternoon tour of Santiago, which began with lunch at Donde Augusto in Santiago's famed Mercado Central.

We were treated to a shellfish feast: razor clams, oysters, scallops, abalone and enormous Chilean king crabs, freshly steamed, with a flavor and texture slightly different from Alaskan king crabs. One note in the Small World department: the manager of the restaurant once operated his own restaurant for 10 years in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Santiago is a cosmopolitan city of 5 million people, seated in a valley between the coastal mountains and the Andes. It is made up of 32 communities, each of which has its own mayor. The 32 mayors all report to the president. It's summer here, so the temperature is a balmy 85, and the only snow that is visible is on a distant Andean peak. Our city tour took us to the Mercado Central, the presidental palace and government offices, a cathedral and a hike up to the top of a hill where a statue of the Blessed Virgin overlooks the city. (Chile is perhaps 80% Catholic.)

We'll be visiting fruit farms and orchards, packing plants and shipping facilities here and in Temuco, to the south, and the port town of Valparaiso, to the west. It promises to be an enlightening experience.



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