We are lucky as expats to have our entire family here in Chile which makes keeping our American holiday traditions even more special. However, to prepare for this meal requires more than just making a shopping list and hopping over to the local supermarket. To accomplish our grand feast I take on much of the same traits as my hunter husband. The real hunting challenge of course is to locate fall/winter foods out of season as the southern hemisphere now enjoys the onset of summer. With this post I hope to become your holiday hunting guide. I also encourage you to share in the comment section any of your secret hunting spots to find holiday food and decor or describe how you bring the holidays from home to your new country of residence.
Keep your eye out and on the target
Planning must start early and you must be ever vigilant while in the stores should your see hiding in the various aisles a product that would bring you a bit closer to "home." For instance, the Jumbo market in the Alto Las Condes area (that caters to many USA expats) had a grand sale of whole, small pumpkins exported from the USA to be used as Jack-o'-lanterns. This "novelty" item was available for about one week prior to Halloween with the store staff demonstrating how to carve designs and faces into the pumpkin. Recognizing my "once in a lifetime" shot, I took careful aim and went in for the kill. I loaded up my cart with pumpkins for carving and pumpkins for boiling and freezing to be used later in pumpkin pie.
|Using a battery operated candle is not only safe, it eliminates candle wax dripping on the pulp if used for pie- |
Photo by D.Martinez
Below are a few of my favorite hunting grounds to guide you in finding fixin's for Thanksgiving.
|Our Thanksgiving bird enjoyed when we lived in Virginia|
Photo by D.Martinez
Finding a whole turkey (fresh or frozen) is not an easy feat given turkeys do not come onto the market here in Santiago until the first of December in time for Christmas. Last year hunting was not easy. But this year Jumbo and Lider have many frozen whole turkeys and turkey breasts in their frozen meat section. Santa Isabel is another market where you may find turkeys. Of course these are not the typical USA jumbo sized birds. In fact they look more like super sized roasting hens. But that's OK given ovens in a typical apartment are on the small size as well.
Other options for turkey
- Sopraval -En su casa will deliver smoked whole turkeys, but they may not be available for this service until December. Service appears to be available only for Santiago and Rancagua.
- Jumbo and Lider stores may bake/roast the raw whole turkey you buy from their store. Inquire at the ready-to-eat hot food section. You need to place an order days in advance. Some stores have a night shift that will bake the turkey so it is ready for a morning pick-up. Verify if there will be an extra charge (some have reported there is not). Reports are the Lider turkeys are good and you can ask that they give you the "jugo", cooking juices, as well for making gravy. Beware that the juices are extremely salty, so check before using them.
- Given the small size of the turkeys and the super-size appetite of my family on Thanksgiving day I have purchased extra turkey legs at La Vega Chica (the meat market/restaurant section of La Vega located in front of the large vegetable market). Also available are turkey necks and livers which I purchased to make stock and add to the giblet dressing. The legs can be found in Carnes "Rancusi" located in pasillo 1 (aisle 1). You may also find frozen turkey legs in the frozen meat section of the larger markets such as Jumbo.
Caterers/Restaurants/Other locations that serve Turkey
- Park Plaza Hotel caters cooked turkeys with stuffing and vegetables for Thanksgiving. Place your order early (no later than Tuesday prior to the holiday).
- Santiago Community Church offers a Thanksgiving Dinner Pot Luck. Diners receive Turkey and Dessert, and are asked to bring a side dish and drink.
- California Cantina will serve a special Thanksgiving menu. Reservations required.
Side Dishes and Fixing's:
Cranberries and cranberry sauce:
Ocean Spray cranberry sauce is often located in Jumbo Alto las Condes in the fruit aisle.
The International Association of Chile sells dried cranberries and concentrated cranberry juice. If you are in the market for fresh cranberries you may be successful in contacting the grower, Agricola Cran Chile Lta. directly. Their location is Ruta 5 Sur (KM771) Lanco, Chile. Go to http://www.cranchile.com/ link on to products then scroll to fresh. You will be prompted to email the company.
Sweet potatoes, or "camotes" are found in Recoletta's the central market called, La Vega, found across the river from the fish market. They also make for a wonderful sweet potato pie in lieu of pumpkin pie.
Crispy fried Onion topping for green bean casserole
My fix for this dilemma has been to go to Burger King and place an order for their onion rings. I found two large portions covered a large casserole dish. To make them a bit more crispy I baked them for about 10 minutes.
An easier way may be to use Fresh Toppings Cebollas Crujientes, used for topping salads. They are good and easy to find in the grocery stores.
Burger King now sells Fried Onion Ring snack food that can be found in Jumbo. These are puffy onion flavored rings that resemble the puffy Cheetos Cheese Puffs. I have not tried cooking with them. I fear they may not hold up well, but they are tasty pre-dinner snacks.
Extra turkey necks and livers used for the dressing or stock are found in La Vega Chica . The legs can be found in Carnes "Rancusi" located in pasillo 1 (aisle 1). Jumbo also has a good stock of turkey necks and gizzards in their poultry section.
Finding pumpkin pulp to make your own pie from scratch is difficult. One recourse to finding the sweet sugar pumpkins that we NorteAmercanos prefer for pumpkin pie may be bring in a can or dozen with you on your return from your next home visit (but be sure you declare it on the SAG form otherwise they may be tossed in the can at your exit from immigration! Also make sure you check the expiration date if you plan to import them and store them for a while. This year Jumbo imported fresh small pumpkins for Halloween carving. Instead, I cut and boiled them, saved the pulp and froze it to be used as our pie filling.
The zapallo or large pumpkin here does not have the sweetness but can be used for those who wish to make a pie from scratch. You my need to play a bit with your recipe to find the sweetness you prefer.
De tartas y tortas located at Buenaventura 1793, Vitacura, Santiago comes well recommended for its sweets and confections. They also make a traditional "Pumpkin Pie Norteamericano" that sells for $8,300CLP.
Spices and flavorings
Molasses as we know it is not available in Chile. You may substitute it using Chancaca, or raw, unrefined sugar with a high molasses content sold in most markets in the form of a semi-hard to very hard brick. There is also a liquid form of chancaca often found in markets as well. To prepare Chancaca for molasses you will need to break the sugar into bits, place it into a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Heat on low or better yet in a double boiler. As the water begins to warm (and it will do so very quickly) mash the chunks with a fork. Be very careful to keep the sugar from burning. A candy thermometer may be helpful here (if you have brought one from home- if not you may be able to find one at Steward Cash and Carry, otherwise cook until it sheets off a spoon. Remove from the heat and add cinnamon to taste and store.
Brown sugar can be substituted with chancaca but it is not as sweet and unfortunately does not form well as our moist brown sugar.
Allspice is often a challenge to locate, though Jumbo or Lidér may have it. It may go by the name Pimienta de Jamaica or Especias Surtidas Molida and is available at La Vega in Tostaduria. Susana Kuschnir Silva, Artesanos 801, Recoleta, Santiago. The owner, Susana speaks English.
Allspice, also known as Jamaica Pepper, is the dried, unripe berry of a small tree. It is available ground or in seed form. It is the fruit of the evergreen pimiento tree. The flavor resembles a blend of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If desperate, you can also make a substitute for allspice by combining equal parts: Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper.
I am told Karo Syrup can be found at Patronato, Antonia Lopez de Bello 566 local 47. A substitute for the clear Karo Syrup could be honey or Golden Syrup which may be found at times at Coquinara Restaurant and Market.
I have not had any problem locating for real Canadian Maple Syrup in Jumbo.
Sage (salvia) and thyme (tomillio) are readily available in most any grocery store. You may even be lucky to find it fresh or in pots ready for a window garden.
To learn translations for other foods and spices click here
While finding a Pilgrim boy or girl is not likely, many of the hardware stores such as Sodimac and Easy have our traditional fall decor items available in the garden section of their stores frequently year round. You may also locate a wide selection of artificial flowers.
For fresh flowers a whole sale market located at Manuel Montt 2000, Santiago is recommended. They sold out of their things early last year, so go early.
And what about Football (not to be confused with soccer)??
Some expats have set up technological solutions to this dilemma by using Slingbox as a solution to bring USA television to Santiago or other parts of the world. The Cable stations do provide ESPN stations for football and some sports bars or restaurants that cater to Americans such as California Cantina offer USA games as well.
Do you have any other great finds for the holidays to add to this guide list? If so please post them here as well.