Monday, August 8, 2011

Las Onces and Cilantro Chutney

In my family, when my dad would get home from work, he and my step mom would sit down and have a small bite to eat and cup of coffee. I didn't realize that is is a typical Chilean tradition until I went back with them to Chile about 2 years ago. Chileans tend to eat dinner much later than in American culture, so, Las Onces, which typically takes place around 6-8 pm, is like a small snack to tide you over before dinner. Usually this snack consists of coffee, tea,bread, toast, butter and jam.

Why is this late afternoon snack called Las Onces?
At the end of the 19th century, the workers in the salt peter mines, run by the English, would have their tea time accompanied by shots of fire water or "aguardiente". To disguise the fact that they were drinking liquor so early in the afternoon, they came up with a code word, once, now referred to in the plural as “onces.” Once, which means "eleven" in Spanish is the number of letters in the word aguardiente. With the passage of time, tea time became known as onces.

In my family, a favorite is smashed avocado on toast, or some other salsa/chutney like spread on toast. The following recipe is a quick chutney you would most likely see at the Mendez table for Las Onces. I think it would make a great appetizer or addition to any meat and cheese plate.

One bunch cilantro, washed, dried, with about 2 inches of the stems cut off, and finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or put through a press
2 Tablespoons, Olive Oil, or a little more
salt to taste
French bread or baguette sliced and toasted

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Add additional olive oil if needed to bind the veggies into a spreadable paste. Spread on toasted french bread or baguette. You could spice this up with a little crushed red pepper flakes too :)

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