Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mercado Central de Santiago - We Hem, We Haw, We Eat

One afternoon we found ourselves in Central Market, a huge fish market near the “river” which runs through Santiago.

It´s really more of a stream.
To call the Mercado bustling would not do it justice.  It was insane!  The perimeter of the market was lined with fishmongers hawking all kinds of seafood, and the interior of the market was packed of tables full of families eating a big Sunday afternoon lunch. 

The main restaurant area.  Overwhelming.
Seafood vendors.
We didn´t know what most of these things were.  Where´s the Mexican when you need her?
Obviously, we were frozen in fear.  Should we eat, should we not eat? We were kind of hungry, but not like, starving.  If we did eat, what restaurant would we go to and what would we order?  We hemmed and hawed for a while and then went outside (OK, we fled) to get our bearings.  At this point in time, Dave was certainly feeling a little sorry for himself.
Jesse looks uncertain.  Dave is quietly freaking out.
Finally we convinced ourselves to man up and go back in there.  After all, not being starving has certainly never stopped us from eating.  It was decided:  we would eat at the biggest, most central and most bustling restaurant*, Don Augusto, and we would order the fried fish (because this is what most other tables were eating**) and the chupe mariscos (we didn’t totally know what this was, but it sounded like soup and we were chilled to the bone***).

Turns out chupe is like a custard.  Seafood custard, meh.
Was Don Augusto the correct choice?  We’ll never know for sure.  The New York Times recommended it in 2003 (per a clipping on the wall of the restaurant) but in a post-lunch fact-finding mission**** the Lonely Planet deemed it overrated and advised tourists to steer clear and opt for the smaller restaurants in the corners of the Mercado.

Dave´s meal, about to meet its fate in some hot oil and breading.
In the end, I’m glad we ate, even if we missed the small family-owned fish shoppes.  Had we not, Dave would have been cranky in about an hour.

* Years of experience have proven that choosing the largest and most central restaurant is a plan certain to result in overpriced, yet mediocre, food.
** Years of experience have proven that scoping out other diners can be a very effective plan.  And as Dave says, “how bad can it be if it is freshly fried?”
*** Years of experience have proven that relying on similarities between a foreign food dish and what English word it sounds like can be a dangerous plan with a small upside and huge potential for disappointment.  In fact, we have never successfully executed this strategy.
**** Years of experience have proven that pre-lunch fact-finding missions are far more successful than post-lunch fact-finding missions, especially when you have the Lonely Planet guide in your bag at the time!   

1 comment:

  1. Did the two of you have anything to do with getting through to the trapped miners sooner?


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