What an OverSeas Swap? Nothing less than a way to put one’s culture in a box, and to make another Keeper discover it through its taste, colors and specific items. For this second OverSeas Swap, we chose to make it a journey in Latin America, from the longest thinnest country in the world, Chile, represented by Antony, to the central american Honduras, embodied by Ana Catalina!
“¡Qué dulce!” — How sweet! – what Ana Catalina got me from Honduras
‘Dulces de leche’, ‘dulces de tamarindo’, and ‘quesadillas’. These are the treats that Cata gave me alongside a small Honduran Flag. These all are typical Honduran sweets, and since I told her that I have a big sweet tooth, she got me her favorite ones. ‘Dulce de leche’ is really easy to make. In fact, there are various types around Latin America, even inside Honduras. Cata told me that each region adds a different ingredient or two. In Honduras, it’s generally made with milk, cinnamon, and sugar. She very quickly told me the recipe since it’s really easy to make. You put the milk in a pan to boil and add sugar and cinnamon. Depending on the consistency you want it to have you put more or less sugar, and to eat it, you simply wait for it to cool down. As I took a bite of it, (lasted about 5 minutes before being devoured), I immediately loved it. They only were somewhat akin to caramel or butterscotch sweets. The best part is the most common ingredients combined, can become such a great treat.
The next sweet in the list was ‘dulces de tamarindo’, which in english are tamarind sweets. I had no clue what this fruit was before I discovered it thanks to Cata. This is a very peculiar fruit; it has some sort of seeds inside and it’s all cover under this somewhat hard shell. It is rather hard to describe the taste, but they were tangy and delicious, although one has to be careful given the nuts inside. Yet the taste was incredible! She told me this one fruit was used for so many things as many others of course, but it was very common to have tamarind drinks, tamarind jelly, and tamarind sweets. She said she particularly loves tamarind drinks because it’s a mix of sweet and sour.
Finally I got to try the ‘quesadillas’ which usually are tortillas with cheese in them, folded in half. These were empanadas (a type of dough pastry) filled with a sweet paste made out of sugar cane. In Chile our empanadas are salty, so tasting a sweet empanada was definitely an experience I enjoyed!
“Hora del té”– Tea Time! – what Antony got me from Chile
Antony’s parcel consisted of a box of Chilean mint tea. While simple, it became clear to me that Tea is something of great value for Chileans. My other Chilean friend has recently posted a story in his Instagram portraying 5 different boxes of tea. It seems the British are not the only ones to have tea time! Chile’s inhabitants have “once”, the nation’s tea time. Once is later in Chile than it is in the UK, usually around 6 pm, as opposed to 3-5pm in the UK. To them, tea has a high social value. The moment when people are drinking tecito is the moment of the day when they share stories and really talk about stuff that matters. In Honduras, this happens often, as we never really go through winter. Some place in the mountains might have hot drinks but in the coast we lay low on hot beverages.
Additionally, as is evident by the Mint Tea that Antony gave me: Herbal tea is quite prominent in Chile. It is my understanding that when one asks for herbal tea in restaurants, many have stocked fresh herbs of different varieties for their customers. Anthony told me the most popular and common are menta (mint), cédron (Lemon verbena), and Limón Gengibre (ginger lemon).
Tea in Chile is usually accompanied by other snacks such as the Marraqueta (Popular-type of bread in Chile), as well as cold cuts, as Antony explained to me. This is why the Once really is a meal of sorts, and not a mere drinking of delicious tea (cause it really could just be that). Once’s can be sweet and salty, in that ham is usually served, but pastries possibly as well. Sugar is usually added to normal tea, but herbal tea is had with none added.
Football, being akin to a religion in Chile, is one of the popular topics to discuss while sipping tea, when people talk about ‘stuff that matters!’ The second most popular topic to discuss is national politics. Despite its relative stability with regards to other nations in the region, Chile is a politically divided nation. Divided between the welfare promoting left, and the free-market right. This being said, these are only a few of the many topics that arise in what are often heated debates during once. While he told me this, I really understood why he was fond of tea; it’s somewhat symbolizes a combination of some of his passions: politics and talking with friends.
Chileans enjoy their tea as it is a part of their culture, and one I am happy that Antony has shared with me!
Our handsome Keeper of Chile starring with a Honduran sweet