Yesterday I was on a mission. I had a meeting in the morning, followed by a purchasing spree at one of my favorite “Chinese import stores” whose owners, it turns out, are Vietnamese, and this mainly to buy a spicy chili paste I’d had at a friend’s house the other day. This of course turned into buying sesame oil, tea for a friend and a bunch of other assorted tasty, salty treats.
Since I was already out and about, and since I hadn’t blown my whole discretionary budget on goods at China House Market, I decided, on a tincada (hunch) to go over to “my” secret tostaduría (dry goods shop) on Avda. Matta. I know they are no more my tostaduría than I am their gringa, but I feel a special affinity for the place, and they’re thoroughly lovely to me every time I’m there.
And the purpose of my trip was to solve the burning question: is there anyone left in Santiago that sells brown sugar? The usual suspects, the two big tostadurías had already turned up nothing, as I was told by a friend, so I headed to El Mataquito, where they had pepitas (pumpkin seeds) long before anyone else did, and where some bulk goods are actually in bins, and you can even taste them before you make a purchase.
So off to El Mataquito I biked, and lo! Brown sugar, both dark and light (morena and rubía) for sale, 400 pesos for 250 grams (about 1.80 a pound). I was so clearly delighted that I’d found it, that when they asked me what it was for, I was in a great mood.
Well, it’s essentially the national cookie of the United States. You know, the ones with the chocolate chips, I explained. And that’s when I had my great epiphany. Of all the times I’d ever been asked what the national dish of the United States was, and I guessed it might be meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or possibly something chickeny, or maybe lasagna (which just seems wrong on a number of levels). The answer was staring me in the face the whole time. It’s none of those things.
The national dish (or national snack, perhaps?) is the chocolate chip cookie. With brown sugar in it. So thank you El Mataquito, for making it all possible. Now I just have to hunt down some chocolate chips (though chocolate chunks are an acceptable alternative, and easier to come by).
And yes, I said it was “my” tostaduría, but I will tell you where it is, if you promise not to buy up all the brown sugar. I told them they should get molasses, and they said they’d look into it. Now that’s good people.
El Mataquito, Avda. Matta 912, near Nathaniel Cox.
And please forgive me for the lack of a photo. I think you all know what brown sugar looks like!
Oh and if you make any cookies, you have to give me one.
I’m actually baking Chocolate Chip Cookies as I write this! Believe it or not, I started before reading your post. Mine are minus the “real” brown sugar though. I used the “dorado,” grainy kind sold at my local Lider. They did have chocolate chips…bonus. The first pan looks and smells okay. I’ll report on taste and texture later after the trial run. LOL
the dorado is definitley grainy, and it will work in a pinch, but they come out different. They will still be delicious, though, of course! mmmm!
I’ve had issues with finding cooking chocolate here in Chile – my local supermarkets only have very sweet tasting chocolate or ‘cobertura’ chocolate, neither of which allow me to make France’s national dessert: mousse au chocolat!
Hi Natalie, I haven’t found good chocolate to bake with, either, just the very expensive swiss high-cocoa content ones. But whenever you figure out how to make that mousse with what you can find here, I’d love to have a taste. Delish! Good chocolate mousse at Baco, if you’re in Santiago. But then, I’m not French!
Okay, I have found a solution to the baking chocolate problem, which is to use the Karina brand chocolate. 2.5 bars of some combo of whatever flavor you like is perfect for one batch of cookies. I use 2 milk, one dark. They’re usually in the gringo/foreign food section, not near the rest of the chocolate. No idea why.
I always thought the defining dish from U.S. was the apple pie; it appears everywhere. I love any pie (not feet, if other Chilean is reading), and certainly I love cookies and chocolate, together, even better, yum!
Yay and thank you for the brown sugar. I’ll have to get the address from you, I may need more 😉 But you shall definitely be rewarded with a cookie or two, and possible a tortilla. (Alfonso says I make the best cookies, but we’ll see how they turn out with ingredients here)
Marmo, Pie is a good one too, I think apple pie is very traditional (and I hate to say it –so much better than kuchen–not that I am biased). Though a good cherry pie is even better!
Now quite hungry…
I have seen like a thousand movies where somebody says tha something “is as American as apple pie”, I would gladly join you in a contest of kuchen vs pie, until we both agree in a true champion. Temuco and Valdivia´s kuchen are vastly superior to the Santiago ones, like a plastic flower compared to a real one.
Now I´m seriously hungry, chocolate cookies, pie, AND kuchen… Music to my marmot ears!
I like pie okay, but I think cookies will always taste better. Like when I’m in the states, I can easily skip the pie, but if chocolate chip cookies around, I’m totally in! And yes, you are right that linguistically apple pie is very American, but my money’s on more people liking chocolate chip cookies than apple pie!
Loved this! So true about the chocolate chip cookies, too. I couldn’t find brown sugar for the longest time here in Sweden, so eventually (in a pre-Thanksgiving fit of desperation) I had my mom ship it to me. It was the care package of dreams! Brown sugar, molasses, dried cherries, and sweaters… everything an American expat in Sweden needs for the fall. Since then, I’ve realized that brown sugar is “muscovado” and I don’t need my mom to privately export it to me. Thanks for the great story!
ha! expat concerns from around the world! thanks for popping in to tell how it works in Sweden. I think I understand you also don’t have vanilla extract? (I have a friend in the N. of Sweden, and I remember her talking about that). We have a kind of turbinado sugar, very coarse that is brownish, and you can use it, but it is not moist like brown sugar and of course, it’s also very coarse. We have one American-style supermarket chain here (called Jumbo) that sells some American and other imported products, and I have heard that they have brown sugar, but I seldom go there, so I wouldn’t know if it’s true. I prefer the little local dry goods shops, plus supporting local businesses!
I used to make chocolate chip cookies when I was younger, and as fast as I cooked them my family would eat them! No one can resist warm cookies!
Now my daughters and I are known for our Brownies. Yummy, good chocolate and lots of butter and sugar! I do make cookies sometimes but I put lots of nuts and oatmeal in them to make them a bit healthier.
Sometimes we find brown sugar in the “health food” part of the supermarkets here, (not the grainy sugar).
I think the grainy brown sugar is called demerara sugar, then there are soft, (dark or light) brown sugar, and then the darkest muscovado sugar. (from one of my British cookbooks)
Thanks for chiming in about baking (which I think we all love, or at least the final product!) I first came to know that sugar as turbinado, but I remember the other name as well. I think the azucar negra is muscovado, as it’s very dark. It’s not quite the brown sugar we know from home, but it’s fairly close, has some moisture, etc.
I hope some day there will be a tasting of your fine baked goods. have you tried doing any baking in the solar oven?
I have made brownies and pita bread in the solar oven, but it needs to be summer when it is hotter. I have noticed the temperature is starting to rise, (I have a thermometer inside one oven). – Just checked 225F, at 2pm.
I love it! And I think you’re right, chocolate chip cookies are very gringo. I can get chocolate chips at my Lider, but I’m missing the brown sugar. Maybe we should combine forces at some point and have a cookie fest!
YESSSSS! Or Ican just pick up brown sugar and bring it to you somewhere. I have had to put oats into my chocochip cookies to get them right (not so flat), but I think Alton whatshisname has some good ideas, including making the dough the day before and chilling it before use.
Yes, I think you are right. Choc chip cookies are it! And everyone loves them. In Africa, I couldn’t get either choc chips or brown sugar. I have made them with the “turbodino” sugar, which I then substituted for both white and brown sugars. It’s okay. And I always just bought choc bars and chopped them up for chips. I sent them with my kids to school and everyone always loved them, esp the teachers 🙂
ha, edj! I do the chopped up chocolate pbars for hte chocholate chips as well. We get them sometimes, at some of the American-style supermarkets, but if they’re not Nestle, I’d just as soon chop up chocolate bars. Nothing wrong with chocolate-chunk cookies.
I’m so glad we’ve figured out this urgent cultural question that has had me so perplexed!
I never thought of chocolate chip cookies as the defining dish of the US, though know that they’re one of my very favorite comfort foods. I’d pick them over apple pie any day. Although, to be fair, I’d also pick chocolate souffle, artisan chocolate bars, and brownies over apple pie; perhaps I have a small chocolate bias?
After Marmo’s comment about the good kuchens in Valdivia, I’m thinking that I have some additional research to do in order to find the good stuff in my new town. It will be tough work, I’m sure, though somebody’s got to do it. But first, I’ll have to find a way to satisfy my chocolate chip cookie craving…
I’m sure Marmo would be happy to give tips on where to find good kuchenes, you can find him on his blog or on twitter. He has a lot of seemingly good opinions on food in the south, though ‘ve never gotten to try them out. BTW, thought of you when I bought sémola the othe rday. Now if only your toddler daughter would come help me cook! Next time you’re in Santiago, definitely make contact!
Oh the joys of the Zona Franca here in Punta Arenas – not only do they have brown sugar, but it’s from the States!
sounds like we should do an encomienda trade. There must be a way to send stuff between here and there by bus. Need anything from Santiago? I know some people that would love to have some of your zona franca goodies! BTW, new baby is painfully adorable, as is the older munchkin. You must still be marvelling at the move to Punta Arenas from Porvenir, though I, personally am sad that you no longer live in the future.
You just made my day!! I have been living in Santiago for about three months now and searching for brown sugar so that I can show my students what I´ve been claiming is a ¨traditional US food¨and now I finally can! Still can´t figure out what to tell them when they dance the cueca and ask me what comparable dance we have, but I´ll worry about that later 🙂
well, I’m so glad I could help! I try to explain about the cueca that we’re very regional and so every region has its own dances. Problem being, Brooklyn really doesn’t. They seem to think square dancing is hilarious though. Tehn again, they may have a point. Welcome aboard, and hope to see you around again!