Welcome my dear friends to the very first International Sandwich Sunday! oh what an auspicious day! open the Methuselahs of Dom Perignon! attack the air with your best taekwondo horse kick! maybe pillage a subway (don’t do that)! It just so happens that Chile has a very good relationship with sandwiches and international relations are beaming with positivity.
I walked along the Mapocho river enjoying the city park only to find Cafe de la Barra nearby. It had all the familiar charms of a quaint coffee shop, with students typing away at their laptops and friends conversing over a slice of cake. The comfortable setting was enhanced by the familiar sounds of milk steaming and the scent of espresso brewing. I sat net to a glass case filled with different cakes and pastries, the temptation was near unbearable. I forged ahead and order one of their specialties on the menu, the “De La Barra” the description read:
En Pan de Aceitunas verdes con pasta de ricota, jamon serrano, rucula, tomates deshidrat
I know a handful of Spanish words from the two years I was asleep in High School Spanish class as well as working with a lot of Central Americans in the various restaurants I’ve been begrudgingly employed by. I was able to understand most of what I was getting (although I had to google tomates) so I had an idea of what flavors I was looking for. With the sandwich I ordered a lemonade, which came out without ice, very light sweetener, and ground mint leaves it worked well with my sandwich. The bread, was something that I hadn’t expected, it almost reminded me of thing biscuit because it had almost a chalkiness to the texture. The Jamon Serrano, which is a lot like(or almost identical to) the Italian cured ham prosciutto was cut really thick and piled high. This made for a very very salty sandwich, luckily the peppery flavors of the rucula (arugula) helped to mitigate it, along with the acid of the dehydrated tomatoes. The sandwich was sauced with a little olive oil, and finished with soft ricotta cheese. The flavors matched very well, cured meat is overpowering so the use to acid and bitterness (from the arugula) along with the oil and cheese create a nice barrier for your taste buds.
I did it completely by accident, but the mint and the lemon of the lemonade also made the saltiness of the sandwich much easier to ingest. The portions in Chile so far have been massive, although this sandwich isn’t by any means a huge meal, the portions of meat and the amount of ricotta make this a really rich and powerful lunch. You can really see the influence of European colonialism all over the cuisine in the city, Italian and Spanish dishes dominate most of the cultural identity of the food around here, with some native dishes still being an important part of Chilean food culture. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I flew down here, but I was surprised to see what some of the most popular foods were in the city.Cafe de la Barra was a good start to an amazing culinary adventure within the Sandwich Societies of Santiago, I am excited for what else I will see. It’ll take a couple more days to get really acquainted with the area, and I’m excited to see where we go from here. Ciao
Cafe De La Barra
José Miguel de La Barra 455, Santiago, XIII Metropolitana de Santiago, Chile