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A Chilean celebration!

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Anne Diamond | 13:10 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

A friend of mine (who didn't have to work the next day!) held a Chilean party overnight while the "Los 33" miners were being brought back into the daylight by the amazing Phoenix rescue capsule. What fantastic images, and what a wonderful GOOD news story!

Rather like holding an election party, and raising your glass at each result, she and her mates toasted the safe return of each miner. It was a long, exhausting and rather tipsy night but a fantastic reason for a party!

So I'm going to do a Chilean barbecue this weekend. Never been to Chile, though. So what's the food like?

Thought I'd ask a local chef - Sanjeev (not such a Chilean name, but he knew his stuff!) from the Latin American eatery, Las Iguanas, in Reading.

He said Chilean food is very sea-food based, with lots of smashing sauces mostly flavoured with tomatoes and peppers and often coconut or ginger.

So a simple recipe for Chilean Mussels: Pan fry a mix of fresh, open mussels, squid, shrimps and salmon. Then "chuck in" chopped tomato, coconut or palm oil and a little ginger. Then add sliced mixed peppers and serve with oriental rice or fried plantain. Sounds very tasty!

Apparently Chileans LOVE their food. They also have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. A doctor I know tells me he fears that his home country, Chile, has divided into two sets of people - the rich slim and the fat poor. He says that, like so many parts of the world, the lifestyle is now food heavy and exercise light. Now those with enough money to pay for health clubs and diet regimes are doing something about their weight. Meanwhile, the poorer population are getting fatter on unhealthy, fast food.

I can imagine those miners, who were on special NASA diet rations for their last few weeks, have been looking forward to their favourite meals. One huge favourite, according to reports, is empanadas - a national speciality. It sounds rather like the Chilean version of a Cornish pasty, a pastry envelope stuffed with either meat of cheese, and occasionally a hidden olive! Then, of course, there's avocados, huge and stuffed with seafood and mayonnaise.

Today's Telegraph reports that Chilean wines are selling out in UK supermarkets. There are some very fine Chilean red wines about, and a great Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, apparently at reasonable prices.

I can't be the only one planning a family party to celebrate the miners' recovery!

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