Monday, July 5, 2010

Valparaiso and the Alcachofa

Hey all,

So, I realize that the title of my post sounds like a rousing children's story with an earnest moral. Sorry to disappoint but these are actually two separate things but both of which I believe are important to share.

First of all, yesterday, our program went on a day trip to Valparaiso, which is on the coast, about two hours from Santiago. It was just...amazing, some of the vistas (views) were just incredible. Valparaiso actual city resides at the lowest elevation but the residences are located in the hills and are painted all different colors, like below:

I was amazed, I've never seen anything like this! Most of the day was devoted to just LOOKING at the city, which was no problem for me, I couldn't get enough. In addition to all the looking, we had lunch practically on the beach which consisted of empanadas stuffed with cheese and mariscos (seafood) and some of the freshest fish I have ever tasted YUM! And already paid for through the program, Excellent!

In the afternoon, we visited one of the houses of Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet. This was also very interesting, the house was five stories (WHAT?) and incredibly narrow. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures inside but a few highlights were "la nube" (the cloud) which he named his La-Z-boy located next to a expansive window on one of the top floors of his home, a mural of a map made completely of stones and seashells which took up an entire wall and a mirror in one of the bathrooms which belonged in a funhouse at a carnival. Perhaps it just became convex with time?

I'll be posting the rest of my pictures on my facebook profile, so look out for those, BUT NOW, onto la alcachofa!

So, on Saturdays, or at least the last two Saturdays, the entire family eats lunch together. Usually we start with soup or salad but this past Saturday we started with an alcachofa (artichoke). Now, clearly I have eaten/seen artichokes before but never the WHOLE vegetable, let alone sitting on my plate waiting for me to consume it. I guess my shock and dismay must have been obvious because my older host brother called for my attention and began to instruct me as to how to eat this strange-looking food. I figured pictures would help with my narration so here is the vegetable.

As you can see, there are a few leaves peeled off already (I was in the middle of eating it when I got the idea to take pictures). Anyways, the part you are supposed to eat is the stump-like part at the bottom and each time you peel off a leaf, a bit of that portion comes with it, like so:

Then, you place the leaf in your mouth and suck out the white part at the end, like so:

Know that it is absolutely necessary to make the face I have made in this photo while consuming the alcachofa. The popping out of the eyes and raising of the eyebrows demonstrates the highest level of enjoyment in consuming the vegetable. After you have enjoyed the alcachofa, take the leaf out of your mouth (don't forget to smile for the camera) and then choose another leaf. And repeat until you have reached the end. It is a rather long process and to be honest, each leaf does not contain that much of the edible portion but I enjoyed the activity!

Shout-out today goes to my parents! A) for giving birth to me so I could eventually make my way to Chile and discover the delightfully though slightly odd alcachofa and B) because I think you guys would really like Valparaiso, perhaps we should make it a day trip when you both come visit!

Abrazos y besos,



  1. Know that I'm deeply, deeply disappointed in myself for never teaching you to eat an artichoke. I'm so sorry. But so happy that you've had this marvelous experience!! We will make them when we are together again (they are best when stuffed with delicious bread crumbs and things).

  2. Abby,
    I am also amazed that you have not had a whole alcahofa! Are you sure we did not get you one at the Renissance Fair here in Colorado? B

  3. Try fresh artichokes with curry mayonnaise or just melted butter. Delicioso! But watch out for the thistle in the middle. Mucho amor, Aunt Beth