If you see people waiting in line in La Serena, join the queue—chances are you’ll be soon eating the best churrascas you’ve ever had.
What, you’ve never had a churrasca?
Well, neither did I, until two nights ago. But trust the French expert, this delicious stovetop bread is addictive.
On my first night in La Serena, I was walking along the aptly named Avenida del Mar when I smelled the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread. I looked around—was there a bakery somewhere I had missed?
But in fact, the homely smell was coming from flat breads baking on small barbecue grills set up along the avenue. I bought one, obviously. It was absolutely delicious, slightly crispy on top, thinner than pita bread but thicker than a crêpe, just the perfect texture and the perfect taste.
Back to the city centre, I realized churrascas were baked all over town. It’s a popular snack in the region and each family has a recipe for the dough, the kind that’s jealously guarded and passed on from one generation to the next.
The fancier versions—and apparently the latest craze in La Serena—are flavoured, the dough is mixed with olives, oregano, merquén (smoked chili peppers, very popular in Chile), garlic, dried tomatoes or onions.
Churrascas are usually sliced in half and filled with a few pieces of queso de cabra (goat cheese, another local obsession). A spread like palta (pureed avocado) or margarine can also be used, or you can eat them warm with just a sprinkle of salt or merquén.
Churrascas are technically a quick bread because it cooks over the stovetop or on the grill, but expect to wait from 10 minutes to half an hour to get your favourite flavour if made from raw dough.
A single churrasca costs from $0.50 to $1.25, depending on the filling (and how fancy the churrasca stand is).