|Photo courtesy of Cajun Chef Ryan since I forgot to take a picture of mine.|
Nope. Nope I did not. You see, Chile is not Mexico. Chile is nothing like Mexico. The picture above of enchiladas is something Chileans do not eat. In fact, the food is NEVER spicy. Not in the slightest. Nor do their beans, rice, fish, meat, potatoes, and corn resemble Mexican food at all. There's no such thing as salsa either. Sometimes they had a spicy sauce called aji (I think), but it wasn't good and I hardly ever saw it. I love Mexican food, and I LOVED Chilean food. Hey, I'm just a girl who loves food. Can I get a hey hey? (Roll your eyes Pat.)
The first time I had a traditional Chilean food called Humitas, I thought it was a tamale. Wrong again. It was made of onions, and mostly corn, but not a masa with meat inside. They have ears of corn longer and bigger around than your arm, and they grate the corn off of it. Eventually it is wrapped in the corn husks and boiled, and the inside turns out pretty sweet from the corn and cooked onions. Weird at first, but I grew to love it. Sometimes they are eaten with sugar, and other times tomato salad with lots of salt and cilantro.
I have tried to make them at home before using their recipe, but it fell apart into a mess and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how they got theirs to stay together inside those corn husks! That's when I learned that any corn in the states is nothing like the corn in Chile. Ours is much more watery- not so starchy. So I gave up.
But in my quest to use less meat, tonight I made enchiladas with a humita like filling. The marriage of Chile and Mexico. They turned out really well if I do say so myself! I know you can just do beans for the filling if you want to avoid the meat, but I thought I combine our watery corn with a dry corn tortilla and what would happen. It's sweeter than a bean filling would be obviously, but a nice contrast with the cheddar cheese and enchilada sauce.
Now you know me and recipes. I don't measure all that well. It was about a bag of corn, half a stick of butter, half a large onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, salt, pepper, sugar as needed- about a pinch of each. Saute all of that and then put it in the food processor to blend up. Then stir in a can of sliced olives, drained.
Now pour some enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish just to coat. I used Macayo. Take a package of corn tortillas, and fry each one for 2 seconds in hot oil, then dip in enchilada sauce, then fill with shredded cheddar cheese and about 1/4 c. of the corn mixture each. Fit them together snugly in the pan and then top with more sauce and cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes. You can't exactly call these healthy, but they aren't so meat heavy.
I am always so grateful to have served a mission in Chile. I don't think any missionary anywhere has ever loved their mission more than I loved mine. I loved the food and it has influenced me greatly. It was so fresh, so healthy, and so simple! I loved the language Castillano and I miss speaking it. I loved the land. Above and way beyond anything else, I loved the people. With all my heart and soul, my time there was sacred.
On a side note, one of the speakers in conference talked about how a mission is a mini life, and I wholeheartedly agree. When I came home I felt I had died and ended that mission life, and even though those people existed still, I felt eternally separated from them. When I came home I would write letters, but since that sucks, it died out quickly. When I was a missionary, every time I was transferred, we were not permitted to write or keep contact with anyone. So always felt I was cut off. When I got home email was brand new to me, and I didn't really do it,since no one in Chile could. I'm glad to know that now, missionaries can stay in contact all the time, so there is never any need to end the relationship and say, "I'll write you when I get home a year from now!"
Now it's weird to me that after 10+ years of being home, people from my mission have popped up from all over the internet. How do you start a conversation with someone after that long? And not a deep meaningful one like on the mission, but a dorky facebook one. I just can't do it. It freaks me out. It's been too long. I know other people who do it just fine, but for me, I'd kind of like to see them in person or in the next life. I can't remember things like I used to, and it freaks me out to try to pick up where we were years and years ago. I don't know how to explain loving a people so much, but the internet is just not the same. You may say it's my own fault, but, I am, in the end, once again, cut off.