From time to time, we will post here with all sorts of articles. Mostly this space is reserved for ministry related items and updates but we also want to include articles that talk about Chilean culture from a Gringo perspective. For starters Gringo, when used in Chile is usually just meant as non-Latino, once in while it may have negative connotations but very rarely. This is not true in all Latin American countries, but we only speak about our experiences in Chile. We also do not pretend to be experts on, or to be making fun of Chilean culture. We truly love this place and her people. Sometimes normal and daily things to one culture just seem truly strange to another. It all depends on your cultural filter.
It is amazing how deeply we were affected by being totally immersed in Chilean culture for only being there for a year and a half. Again, we totally love Chile and the Chileans we made friends with were really special people. Friends for life kind of people. We believe that it is the people of Chile that are the greatest treasure this country has to offer the world. Chileans know how to live life correctly with passion and joy. Chileans are also very connected to their history and traditions. One of those traditions is the Chilean toaster.
You may be vaguely familiar with this device if you were born before the 1950's or go camping regularly. You may be asking yourself why in the world would they use that to toast bread with when they make perfectly fine electric toasters that are more efficient. That is exactly what we asked ourselves when we first got to Chile. We soon learned that for some reason, whether it be the bread in Chile (which comes in many toaster unfriendly shapes) or Chilean stoves or whatever the case may be this device is impossible to be without in a Chilean kitchen.
We also learned that the Chilean toaster is THE secret to cooking perfect rice. Chilean stoves, which I mentioned earlier tend to run a bit on the hot side the toaster provides just the right buffer between stovetop and pan. This allows your rice to slowly absorb the water it is cooking in and not become mushy or burned.
But, it was shared with us by another Gringo friend that they took a survey as to why Chileans prefer this old fashioned toaster to an electric one. The number one answer Chileans gave on this survey was because they love the smell of slightly burning bread because it reminds them of the past. We were living in a very modern and middle-class apartment building while we were in Chile. Never the less every morning was punctuated by the aroma of burning bread wafting up the stairwell as people were getting ready to go out and face the day. But no matter what was to come at them at least they had started it with a delicious piece of toasted bread with jam that reminds them of the comfort of home.
As we mentioned earlier the Chileans are a people of history and tradition.
And we love them.
The Grotton Family
David and Danielle are missionaries serving in Viña del Mar, Chile. They work primarily among the differently enabled.