2018 Spring Chile External Programs IFSA Morgan Rock

Seafood Galore!

This weekend I went to the fish market in Valpo for the first time, and there’s only one word to describe it – increíble. Although it’s definitely smaller as far as fish markets go, everything looks so incredibly fresh. Instead of having that heavy, stinky fish smell that’s so typical of fish markets, it just smells like the ocean – hardly surprising since there’s seafood on all sides. It’s no more than 200 feet from the beach, and, if you get there early enough, you can see the fishermen bringing in their freshly-caught shellfish and fish for the day. Walking down the corridor where all the stalls are, each fisherman shouts their prices out, trying to lure you in.

I went with my friend to get some shellfish to cook for lunch later, and we were greeted by all different sorts of shellfish we had never even heard of. I bought some slightly suspicious shellfish called ostiones that look like some sort of abalone. I ate them raw with a little bit of lemon in the market, and they actually weren’t too bad, despite their rather unappealing appearance. They tasted like straight-up seawater in the most delightful way. We also bought a whole bunch of shellfish to prepare for lunch later, from shrimp and mussels to some clams – all super fresh and cheap.

fish

Overall – a great day and a delicious lunch. However, there was one slight trip-up. Just as a preface, as an American, I obviously grew up with the incredibly illogical imperial system instead of the metric system. So, as a result, I’m still adjusting to the whole kilos and kilometers thing (and don’t even get me started on the weather reports being in Celsius). While we were doing our shopping for the day at the fish market, my friend and I thought it was reasonable to get a couple kilos of each kind of shellfish. So, we got a few kilos of mussels, a couple kilos of clams, and so on. Little did we realize that buying those “few kilos of mussels” was actually six and a half pounds – oops. Fun fact, one kilo is equal to 2.2 pounds. In total, we ended up with about 10 pounds of shellfish . . . for four people. The good news is that we now have plenty of leftovers! I’m definitely going to be stuck eating seafood for the next couple days though.

mariscos

Although I ended up buying enough food for about 10 people, it actually wasn’t too expensive. The prices for shellfish here are super reasonable, which makes sense since Valpo is a port city. Mussels are less than two dollars a kilo, and clams are marginally more expensive at three dollars a kilo. However, provided you speak Spanish, you can always haggle with the fishermen and get them to lower the price a little bit.

Without a doubt, visiting the fish market has been one of my favorite experiences in Valpo so far, and I’ll definitely have to make a second trip – but the next time I go, I’ll look up the conversion rate of pounds to kilos before buying mountains of shellfish.

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