Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue

Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue

Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue

As in my home South Africa, the braai/barbecue is a social event that is an important part of Chilean culture. I’ve seen a music video in which a Chilean singer sings about everybody ‘parilla’-ing together exactly like the South African Braai Day songs! In Chilean Spanish, there are two words for braai/barbecue, as explained by our new Chilean friends:

Assado: an event in which food is made on a braaier/grill and people sit down at a table to eat the food when it is cooked.

Parilla (pronounced ‘pareeja’): an event in which people gather around the parilla and keep on ‘parilla‘-ing and eating for hours on end.

Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue
Sune and her husband in Chile

Once the meat was done, it was handed out freely in bits and pieces, so everyone got a chori-pan (short bread with chorizo and mayonnaise) or a piece of steak or chicken–regardless of what they had brought.

One Saturday in September, we attended a proper parilla that was arranged by the Couchsurfers of Santiago, where the first chorizos (short sausages–not to be confused with the longer sausages) were on the parilla when we arrived at Parque Padre Hurtado at 2 pm.  The park has various parillas and huts where groups of people meet up. People would arrive and place their meat of choice on the pile next to the parilla and the parilla master would take meat from the pile and cook it on the parilla.

Once the meat was done, it was handed out freely in bits and pieces, so everyone got a chori-pan (short bread with chorizo and mayonnaise) or a piece of steak or chicken–regardless of what they had brought. This ritual carried on from the time we arrived until we left at around 7 pm, so we basically ate small pieces of meat throughout the afternoon and drank a lot of beer while waiting for more food.

Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue

Apparently the park closes at 8 pm and when the security guards tell people to leave, everybody responds by singing rude drunken songs.  Luckily (or unfortunately), we missed that part as we left before the park closed.

The people in Santiago are extremely friendly! At a metro station, a security guard helped us find the right train and when he heard that we were from South Africa, he looked at us in astonishment and then said something in Spanish that ended with “...todos black! No es possible!” He seemed to think that all people in South Africa were black, and couldn’t believe that we were from there.

He seemed to think that all people in South Africa were black, and couldn’t believe that we were from there.

At the Quinta Normal Park that we visited on Sunday, another guy also expressed his surprise at us being South African and then proceeded to try to sell weed to Dirk! Apparently it is illegal to buy or sell weed in Santiago, but it is legal to have it in your possession.

My favourite moment in Santiago thus far was after the parilla on Saturday.  We thought we were attending an intimate gathering at a guy’s apartment–he had invited us over to make pizza.  When we arrived at the apartment, the door to his flat was open with people standing in a queue to use the bathroom.

We followed the trail of people out onto a huge balcony and there were at least 50 people dancing and partying with a drum set standing around–we had missed the band.  But we still got to see the most spectacular views of the city!

Chilean Culture: Attending Our First Chilean Barbecue

Related Reading

Dating in Chile: A Conversation with Jennifer Ramos
Why Santiago’s La Vega is a Market Like No Other
Chile’s National Holidays: Family, Fondas, and Fun
Why Did I Move to Chile? “¿Por qué no?”
A Long Weekend in Chiloe, Chile
Travel Chile: A Conversation with Rebecca Murphy

Have you traveled to Chile? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

About Sune Uys

AvatarSune Uys has traveled throughout South America.

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