There's not all that much that I miss about England. To most people's surprise, I usually mention food. Things like chicken pie, roast lamb/pork/beef with all the trimmings, cottage pie, sag wal, dim sum and pad thai amongst other traditional British dishes. But I think the one food item I miss most is bacon. Bacon is a gift from the gods. Smoked back bacon with just a thin line of fat. Maple cured bacon. Fatty, streaky bacon. Hmmm.....just thinking about it is making me dribble onto my keyboard.
For some unknown reason, proper British style bacon is not really very common outside of certain countries (Denmark, Canada and Australia are the three that mainly spring to mind). I don't know why this is. It's soooo good. Strange people, foreigners.
So what can you do about this unfortunate fact of life in Chile? Improvise. After much investigation, here's the definitive guide to how to make a bacon sandwich in Chile.
First off, just accept that there's no bacon. I've found the best substitute to be Jamon Colonial J.K. (J.K being the brand). It's available in most supermarkets and costs around £1.50/250g. Out of all the different hams I tried, I keep coming back to this one. Make sure you get slices with the all important fat on it them, like this:
The next most important part of a bacon sandwich is the bread. Don't buy your bread from the supermarket. It's horrible. Go to a bakery. If possible, come to Cerro Concepcion and go to the bakery on the corner of Alte Montt and Urriola. The bread to buy? Pan batido as it's known in Valparaiso or Marraqueta as it's known pretty much everywhere else. Below is what it looks like. This is two pieces-break in the middle, horizontally to get the one piece required.
Now heat it in the oven for 5 minutes.
When I can be bothered, I fry a few red onion rings for added flavour. Once they're done, fry the ham until the fat on it has become crispy.
Cut the bread in half and add a little olive oil. Put the 'bacon' in. Then add a couple of slices of fresh tomato, a bit of salt, a sprinkling of oregano and, if you're feeling fat, some freshly grated reggianato cheese. I also like a bit of tomato sauce.
Cut down the middle and enjoy. Yum.
Don't forget to have a nice cup of tea afterwards. Here's my guide about how to make a good cuppa in Chile.