Much more delicious South American awesomeness has been served up since I discovered merkén…and oohhhh am I thankful. My mouth is anyway. My gut may wish to differ in a few weeks if this keeps up.
From the isle of Chiloé, I bring you the following:
I’m going to start with this one, as really, it was not good. I was encouraged to eat this while strolling though Castro’s food market with my friend Rebecca and our chilote friend Luiz. Luiz´s face when we were offered raw piure should have been warning enough, but still we surged ahead.
Piure looks like this:
And tastes like it too. The taste of sweaty underarms didn’t go away for an hour or so. (What I imagine sweaty underarms taste like, you understand!)
The kind man who offered us piure thankfully followed this up with some mussels smoked over coals, and crab meat. For that, we remember his fish stall in a much more positive light.
I’ve already sung its praises, but do permit me this little repetition. Ceviche is to your mouth on a summer’s day what coke is to an addict’s nostrils, post-snort / pre-one-day-caving-in-and-forming-one-mega-nostril. It’s a tango in your mouth (wow, now I’m just mixing a South American cocktail of stereotypes) of coriander, raw fish, onion, chilli and lime…my mouth is actually watering as I write this. I must stop, and move on to:
Luiz ordered us a serving of picoroco at the same port-side seafood hole-in-the-wall where we’d moments before gone to ceviche heaven. It’s not such an easy dish to prepare, and in my opinion, the theatre involved in extracting the picoroco shells from their barnacle-like grip on the rock they come with (and subsequently the poor souls themselves from their shells) was more entertaining than the eating itself. I’m sounding somewhat like a sadist at this point, but do let’s continue…
After we’d misunderstood these guys’ name as “pico loco” and had a good laugh with Luiz (“pico loco” would be “crazy penis” in Chile, a concept which is thankfully not frequently sold at fish markets), we got down to the business of checking them out.
Your faithful fishmonger must use a hammer to convince the picoroco to ease its grip on its rock friend, a foolish relaxing of political ideals on the animal’s part which immediately delivers it a fairly profound haemorrhage as its pyramid-like shell is cracked clean away. Within, the flesh itself is shaped not unlike…well, a large white goober let’s say…and is equipped with its own personal triangular “hat”: a piece of shell attached to where its head would supposedly be. Imagine, if you will, a impressively sized, flaccid piece of white snot wearing a shell hat. A hat which served to protect it from the land above…until that unhappy moment when a certain fish monger rudely bashed its brains out against his kitchen counter.
Taste sensation: wet and vaguely seafood-like.
Entertainment: second to none.