Tuesday 11 May 2010

A fishy business

Mercado Central in Santiago sounds promising. The ornate steel roof was built in Britain and assembled here, and underneath fishmongers compete with eager restaurateurs to trap the tourist pesos. I wander about and put fish names to fish. Or try to at least, my fish recognition skills having tailed off a little since Ballymaloe.

I've been told that Donde Augusta is the best of the many restaurants that cram themselves in here, so I sit myself down. My meal has already ordered itself really. I am in the central fish market in Santiago. I have grilled sea bass with a glass of sauvignon blanc. Waiting for it to arrive, we are serenaded by a seemingly endless procession of guitarists, all of whom seem to suffer from one physical defect or another in an effort to prise more pesos from my vice like grip. It's a bit touristy, but it's lively and colourful and I like the fact that I'm eating right in the heart of the market.

I start dreaming about the most succulent sea-bass I am ever going to taste, and in just about the best place in the world to enjoy it too. These are just the type of experiences I yearn for on this trip. A true food odyssey. But I’ve been going long enough now and I should really know better.

It looks all right when it arrives. Just. It's well cooked. At times it tastes okay, too. But I have more than a sneaking suspicion it has been on the plancha in extremely close proximity to a piece of meat, since it tastes, well, beefy. And there’s definitely something fishy about that.

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