You Haven't Really Tasted Oysters Until You've Tried Them In Chile

For oyster lovers, the Chilean coastline is a dream come true.
For oyster lovers, the Chilean coastline is a dream come true.
Hildegard Stausberg

SANTIAGO - We know that Chilean writer and Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) was a serious gourmet – something that his considerable girth attested to. So it’s no surprise if among his many poems there’s also an Ode to Conger Chowder.

The conger – a giant eel called congrio in Chile – is, unlike the European conger eel, not a fatty, soft fish, but has a lovely white filet with a semi-firm consistency. Congrio is thus better suited to making a hearty fish soup with, something that it is possible to do if one follows the instructions the poet gave in his 1954 ode.

And that very fish soup is listed on the menu – as paila marina – of Ostras Azocar, the renowned restaurant located a few blocks behind La Moneda, Santiago's presidential palace. The restaurant is also the best-known oyster bar in Chile’s capital.

"Paila marina" - Photo: Constanza

Ostras Azocar opened in 1945 and was faithfully rebuilt according to the original plans after a fire some 40 years ago -- so guests still have the feeling of being in the old, traditional eatery.

An evening there begins at the oyster bar. It is at the back where there are not only oysters but also lobsters in a huge water tank. Here, guests can chuck oysters from Chiloé, the largest island in the southern part of the country.

Surf clams and mussels

Genuine Chilean oysters are somewhat smaller than French oysters, but many a real oyster connoisseur will tell you that they are significantly tastier. For lovers of fish and seafood, the Chilean coastline is a dream come true.

It goes without saying that oysters are served with white wine – Chilean white wine, of course. Later, at the table, it’s worth taking a look at the wine list: Chile always produced good white wines, but in the past couple of decades the country set between the Andes and the sea has developed into a producer of some of the best white wines in the world.

And these white wines are a good match for other items on the menu. Like the machas a la parmesana, surf clams baked in the oven with grated cheese; ostiones al pil-pil, scallops in spicy garlic chili sauce; choritos al perejil, mussels in wine and parsley sauce; or pastel de jaibas, a baked casserole based on crab meat.

The menu includes everything that can be fished in the Pacific off those 4,000 kilometers of Chilean coast: crabs, mussels, sea urchin, shrimp, fish. And of course conger.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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