Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 18/06/2015

Pomaire: a journey to the heart of the identity of Central Chile

If you want to experience the true spirit of Chile in a single day, we invite you to Pomaire. There you can enjoy some delights of Creole cuisine.

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If you want to experience the true spirit of Chile in a single day, we invite you to Pomaire. There you can walk trough the streets of a typical colonial town, know its traditional clay crafts and, of course, enjoy some delights of Creole cuisine.

In a country such long as Chile, which crosses different climate zones, its landscapes and faces of its people are diverse. It is difficult to find a single place that captures all what expresses our country, but I have good news for you. Very close from Santiago, just 50 kilometers to the west, there is a very special town. With its old traditions, which have remained virtually untouched for centuries, Pomaire expresses the Chilean soul.

This village attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year. If you visit it in the summer, pack some sunglasses and a cream with sun filter, while in winter it is advisable to always carry a good jacket and an umbrella, just in case if it rains. Remember, the Pacific coast is only 50 kilometers away, so some days you can feel the morning fog or a strong sea breeze. But if you forget to wear something warm, don’t worry. Pomaire is famous for its handicraft shops, where you can find beautiful scarves, vests and wool ponchos.

The trip to Pomaire from Santiago takes about an hour. You can go by car or bus, which departs daily from the San Borja terminal, located near the Estación Central Metro Station in Santiago. The best route is to take the Autopista del Sol to Km 50, then turn right at the entrance to Pomaire.

Pomaire, now dependent from Melipilla, has a mysterious origin. Its name could come from the kunza language “pumarara” meaning “thief”, or, in quechua “puma” and Aymara “ire” indicating plural. Pomaire may also owe its name to Curaca Pomaire, who arrived in 1482 with a group of Indians to a flat and fertile land located north of the present Pomaire. Due to population growth, in 1583 the tribe was moved to its present location, surrounded by hills and abundant raw material to make their pottery works.

The fame of Pomaire comes from its craft. It is a village of potters! Its tradition has accompanied its people since 1771, precisely from the same date of its foundation. The main streets of the town, San Antonio and Roberto Bravo, are full of these shop-houses, which are also the workshops of artisans who create their pieces in lathes and sell their crafts in clay. It is a real show for your cameras.

This pottery is characterized by its reddish color and smooth, glossy surface. Formerly, according to the Diaguita tradition, the clay was tinged with a black tone with organic materials. Then it was cooked in clay ovens with temperatures ranging from 1,100 °F to 1,500 °F. This pre-Columbian technique was perfected by the later influence of the Incas, who were true artists of pottery.

costillar de cerdoToday you can find various creations, both decorative and utilitarian, including small figurines of animals or religious representations, vases, pots, ornaments, fountains and planters. In addition, you can also purchase some traditionally made furniture of wood or wicker; flowers, fruits, vegetables of the season and of course, have lunch in one of the many lovely restaurants with traditional floor and its inevitable clay ovens.

Pomaire offers typical Chilean dishes, from simple but tasty Chilean tomato and onion salad until pastel de choclo (a dish prepared with baked pasta from tender corn kernels on a meat, hardboiled egg and olives). Several dishes in Pomaire represent the protein side of the Chilean food. They include poultry, pork and beef. You can try, for example, a rich casserole with chicken or beef boiled for hours with vegetables, along with a glass of Casillero del Diablo Carmenere.

I recommend you to pay attention to recipes based on pork. For example, an arrollado will conquer you with its juiciness and rich notes of traditional spices such as coriander, parsley and cumin. I like cold rolled, with a good marraqueta as an appetizer. Although it seems an eccentricity, try it with sparkling wine as Casillero del Diablo Brut Reserva. You will be surprised!

empanada pomaire

Then you can order a hot dish such as roast lamb roasted in the oven with a glass of Casillero del Diablo Shiraz or some delicious pork ribs slowly prepared in a dish of clay. For this dish I recommend a fruity Casillero del Diablo Malbec.

But the culinary attraction of Pomaire is the empanada. This thin, elastic dough may involve numerous flavors, but Pomaire’s filling is rather classic: ground beef, onion, hardboiled egg and raisins to sweeten life. The phenomena of Pomaire empanada is also its size. Here you can find empanadas of even two pounds of weight. Imagine how big they are! In 1995 Pomaire achieved a Guinness record by making the world’s largest empanada. And that is part of a classic Chilean pairing: there is no better supplement for an empanada than another great classic: Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon.

After the walk through the cozy streets, the visits to the stores, the shopping and a rich and abundant meal, you just need a detail to make your experience in Pomaire complete: a sweet touch. In Pomaire you will find some delights of the Central Valley, as alfajores and cuchuflíes filled with dulce de leche. Now you are ready to return home with your backpack full of unforgettable memories and flavors.