Seafood Lover’s Paradise

Clark June 8th, 2007

Condesa just spent her second night in Coquimbo. This is a part of Chile you don’t read about in the guidebooks. It’s a bit off the tourist track, which makes it that much better. There is yet another friendly little yacht club here, completely free for visiting yachts, with hot showers and amenities. Pablo left this morning on a bus back to Santiago.

We had a meal yesterday that I will always remember among the five or six truly spectacular meals of my life. It is the stuff of legend that in California back in the ‘20´s you could bring up two abalones and a lobster on a single breath of air. Or up until thirty years ago you could get a dozen oysters on the half shell for a dollar in Louisiana. On the Chillean coast this is still reality.

Yesterday, in celebration of our arrival after an all-night sail, we went to a restaurant, a picá, right where the fishermen offload their catch. We started with a scallop and cheese empanada, the best empanada I have ever had in my life…scallops just caught that morning. This was followed by a bowl of shellfish soup that if it could be assembled in California, and it couldn’t, would cost $100. It had at least ten different kinds of shellfish, and the only shells in the bowl were the tips of the crab claws, just so you could pick them up with your fingers and eat the mouthful of meat attached. There were chunks of lobster and abalone, clams, shrimp, scallops, locos, machos, and other things I don’t even know the names of, all for four bucks. When we arrived the place was empty, but by the time we left it was packed with the lunch rush with men in business suits elbowing their ways among the fishermen. We shared a table with a few businessmen, who confirmed that this was indeed as fresh and good as it gets.

Supposedly it’s like this in every little town along the coast going north, so henceforth my trip will be a seafood tasting tour of nothern Chile.

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