Flavors of Chile: Crudo

As mentioned in my previous post I used to be a vegetarian before coming to Chile. I felt that it would be impossible to fully experience the culture here and, more importantly, it would be impossible to eat anything that I didn’t prepare myself. Since I want to fully take advantage of my current meat-eating I have been trying to sample as much of the strange local cuisine as I can, which I will then be reporting in my new “Flavors of Chile” articles.

While there are many dishes I could start with I thought it would be best to cover a few of my recent trips, while they are fresh in my memory. The first trip I took to the southern part of Chile was to Valdivia, in the Los Rios Region (XIV Región de Los Ríos). Valdivia is a cool old city that has a strong Germanic influence (from a German influx of people during the mid 1800s) that has had an effect of various parts of the culture, including the food. One such food that I had the opportunity to try was Crudo. Crudo is raw beef that has been ground into a paste, mixed with diced onion and then spread on toast. It was served with a mayo/tartar sauce and lemons.

Crudo, from the Kunstmann Factory in Valdivia, Chile

The pink is the raw beef.

When I first heard about crudo I was expecting a very strange tasting, bloody mess. It was actually very boring (once you get over the mental hurdle of eating uncooked beef). The onion, tartar sauce and lemons completely overpower anything remotely meaty.  If anything it was like toast with a wet top.

The above meal was served at the Kunstmann factory, which is technically located outside of Valdivia. Kunstmann is a large brewing company (one of the main ones in the country) but decidedly nicer than some of the other local brands. The company is a successor to an older beer company in the area (which was destroyed in the 1960 earthquake) and claims a longstanding historical connection to beer in the region (even through the company started producing beer for the public in the late 90s). As such there is a “beer museum” on the grounds, with hilariously crappy mannequins.

The one in the back really want's her Beer.

The one in the back really wants her Beer.

To conclude, crudo is probably healthier than damp paper towel on toast, but about as tasty.

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