What is “La Once Chilena”?
Once is the most popular mealtime in Chile. Always in the evenings (from 7 to 10 pm) and often replacing dinner. It’s a treasure tradition. It is beloved for its flexibility and hominess. Once is the embodiment of comfort food for Chileans.
In Chile and Latin culture, leaving someone to eat alone is frowned upon. The Once awaits everyone in the household. Even if you ate, you could have another cup of tea to keep company to the late arrivals.
What do you eat at Once?
The weekday Once is usually a mix of bread and assorted bread fillings (cosas pa’l pan) or spreads, leftovers from lunch or the weekend, and coffee and tea. There will be a bread basket and cold cuts, jams, butter, cheese, mashed avocado, and queso fresco at the table. If lucky, a pound cake or bundt cake too.
On weekends Once is more elaborated with cakes, kuchen or pies. Maybe an assortment of different pieces of bread on the bread basket. Fancier cold cuts and cheese and scrambled eggs.
What to expect if invited to Once?
Be glad if you get an invitation for once, because since there is always an assortment of things, you can choose what to eat and drink. Also, Once is a more intimate affair than dinner in Chilean households, so you are probably a good friend and trusted.
Since much of Once revolves around bread, if you are gluten intolerant, let your host know in advance.
What to bring to Chilean Once?
If you want to bring food, bring something sweet, store-bought is fine. Stop by the local bakery and get a pie or a kuchen, an assortment of cookies, etc. If you enjoy baking, any recipes listed below will be well received.
You can also bring flowers, chocolates, jam, or dulce de leche. If you bring wine, do not expect the host to open it during the once. Most likely, the wine will be saved for lunch or Asado.