Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pressure cooking in Southern Chile

A number of years ago, I not only got the opportunity to cook for a group of people in Torres del Paine National Park, in Southern Chile, but was also given the keys to a professional kitchen and restaurant. It was attached to the campsite we were staying in and because it was winter and pretty chilly (in Chile), it was closed.

I had around 30 hungry mouths to feed, mostly tourists (that had been hiking all day) but there were also a few local farmers, the owners of the campsite and some of their family members. The pressure was on. After purchasing a large salmon, some locally grown vegetables and a whole little lamb (not Mary's, I don't think) I got down to the task at hand. The restaurant had the most fantastic setting on a lake looking out onto the towering surrounding peaks and while the visitors enjoyed sundowners I slaved away in the kitchen. Well that's a bit of a lie. I was in heaven. The kitchen, which was open plan and part of the dining room, had the most fantastic grill, about 2 meters long, with varying levels and gadgets. There I stood, with the owner of the campsite, the farmer I bought the lamb from and the local butcher, preparing a meal and taking part in what seemed to be a compulsory lesson in drinking whisky and being a man in that part of the world. The meal seemed to be a success and I would love to say that it was an experience I will never forget but it seems that being a man in that part of the world involves a little too much whisky. Sadly the later stages of the evening became somewhat of a blur, although I do remember waltzing with the farmer at one point. 

I learnt 3 important things that evening:

1) I love cooking
2) Lamb tastes good
3) The saying should go - 'Africa and Southern Chile are not for sissies'

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