Our first Chilean Braai

As in South Africa, Braai as a social event is also an important part of Chile’s culture.  I’ve seen a music video where 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’ (Barbeque), as explained by our new Chilean friends:

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

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

This past Saturday we attended a proper parilla (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 by two pm.  The park has various parillas and huts where groups of people meet up. Image  Image

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.  Image

Once the meat is done, it is handed out freely in bits and pieces, so everyone would get a chori-pan (short bread with chorizo and mayonaise on) or a piece of steak or chicken, it doesn’t matter whose meat it is.  This ritual carried on from the time we arrived till we left around 7pm, so you basically eat small pieces of meat throughout the afternoon and drink a lot of beer while waiting for more food.  Apparently the park closes at 8pm and when the security guards come to tell people to leave, everybody sings rude drunken songs at the guards.  Luckily (or unfortunately) we missed that part as we left before the park closed.

The people in Santiago are extremely friendly and welcoming!  We had a classic moment when a security guard on the metro station helped us to find the right train.  When he heard that we’re from South Africa, he looked at us in astonishment, said something in Spanish that ended with “…todos black! No es possible!” meaning that all people in South Africa are black, it’s not possible that we’re from there!  In the Quinta Normal Park we visited on Sunday, a very friendly 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 Santiago, but it is legal to have it in your possession…catch 22.)

We have met two people who know Die Antwoord‘s music and one girl from USA knew about Oscar Pistorius, because he participated in the Olympics, but then of course I started talking about the murder and she didn’t know about that and a good promotional talk about South Africa went slightly downhill there.  People also like talking about the Soccer World Cup of 2010, especially now that Chile beat Venezuela in an important qualifying match for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

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 invited us over to make pizza.  When we arrived at the apartment on the ninth floor, the door to the flat was open with people standing in a queue to use the bathroom.  We followed the trail of people out onto the huge balcony and there were at least fifty people dancing and partying with a drum set standing around – we missed the band – and the balcony had the most spectacular views over the city!


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