Towering and tasty: Chile celebrates its iconic sandwiches

Visitors to the culinary fair will be able to sample the dishes of 15 of the country’s top sandwich makers.

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A favorite among locals of all ages and backgrounds, the typical Chilean sandwich, or ‘sánguche’, is a food institution. Mouthwatering and magnificent, it is also a sight to behold.

In its simplest form, this iconic tower of taste consists of a stack of juicy tenderloin strips, finely diced tomato, fresh avocado and mayonnaise, balanced between two large chunks of bread.

For years, the beloved Chilean sandwich has held the place of honor on the menus of countless sandwich bars and ‘schoperias’ throughout the country, but in recent months, it has also received a more sophisticated touch.

A number of Chile’s top chefs have turned their attention to the humble sandwich, giving it a more subtle and refined flavor, while respecting its simple original premise.

And in a bid to cement the sandwich’s place in Chile’s culinary history, Santiago cook and food historian, Juana Muzard, has organized the city’s inaugural Sandwich Fair.

Taking place in Las Condes’ Parque Araucano from December 15-18, the festival will feature 15 of the capital’s best sandwich makers, while Friday, December 16 has been declared Sandwich Day.

“We have the best sandwiches in the world and an unmatched tradition, so why shouldn’t we believe in ourselves and try to position ourselves as the sandwich capital of the world,” Muzard told El Mostrador.

The author of ‘El Sánguche’, a book exploring the history of the sandwich, said the purpose of the event was to promote the place of the popular snack in Chilean society.

“This meal is [an authentic] gourmet product, however it’s necessary to elevate it to the place it deserves as many people simply associate it with fast food,” Muzard continued.

“The Chilean sandwich in its diversity, forms part of the country’s culinary and historical heritage and as such, it should be recognized, protected and promoted abroad as an essential symbol of our country.”

The festival will include a series of discussions and classes on sandwich preparation, along with appearances from some of the country’s top foodies, including the president of the Food Critics Group of Chile, Pilar Hurtado, and acclaimed chef, Juan Pablo Mellado.

Visitors will also be able to sample the dishes of the various exhibitors. The cost of entry is CLP2,000 (US$3.90).