On a recent trip to Chile I discovered four important things that I believe are essential to well-being.
The first is oxygen. There seemed to be a short supply of the stuff as the country is experiencing its worst wildfire season in its history. Nearly 900,000 acres of forest are burning, turning the sky brown and, with excessive summer heat, making most of the country smell and feel like a bad barbecue. 5,000 people have been evacuated and 11 killed. It’s a terrible situation. The heat and the drought have been linked to climate change but I am an American and, under the new administration, apparently that particular scientific fact is no longer true.
Ignoring the bad news and being a self-indulgent tourist, I discovered the second, the breakfast of champions – Pisco Sour. This appears to be a drink made out of eggs and urine. Fortunately, it’s made out of brandy – Pisco – a grape brandy.
Here’s a recipe.
- Pour pisco, lemon juice, sugar and egg white in a shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.
- Pour dashes of angostura bitters on the creamy drink.
One Pisco sour starts the day with a zing. Two adds a hallucinatory quality to the day and you start to see Inca deities at the end of the bar. Three ends the day rather quickly.
The third is ceviche. I don’t know the history of ceviche and after a couple of Pisco Sours, I couldn’t care less.
The fourth is flora, of course. The flora of Chile is rich in endemism. The Chilean wine palm, Jubaea chilensis, is almost gone from the wild but it is grown in gardens.
Chilean wine palms at Parque Explorador Quilapilún
In the Andes, the magnificent Puya chilensis, a terrestrial bromeliad, grows on rocky slopes. Its flowering is finished in late summer but it has a powerful presence in the scree and boulders 300-1000 m above sea level.
Here is a photograph, from a friend, of Puya chilensis in flower.
Good food and drink can be found anywhere but a plant in the wild is beyond ordinary pleasures.