Thanksgiving Dinner at Borago in Santiago, Chile

For Thanksgiving this year, we ate stone soup. Oh, and leaves. I guess I should mention the leaves, since there was a plethora of leaves.

Nope, I’m not even joking.

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I guess we did it because we’re totally authentic, old-school Pilgrims. And that’s what the Pilgrims probably ate that first Thanksgiving.

(Actually, that first Thanksgiving menu was a lot better than our meal at Borago in Santiago, Chile. And, at least we had wine. Sorry, original settlers. Sucked to be you—on so many levels.)

Not really. We did it because we jumped on a low-cost fare and went to Chile for Thanksgiving week. And, well, you gotta eat somewhere on Thanksgiving, right?

 

Borago is the no. 36 restaurant in the world. As the World’s 50 Best explains: “owner-chef Rodolfo Guzman’s interest lies as much in the pastures and woods as much as it does the markets and kitchen.”

Let me tell you, this Guzman dude has been spending a LOT of time in the pastures and woods. So get ready to masticate some dusty flowers and lick sticks—literal sticks, aka: “pre-spring flowers skewers”—because eating at Borago means you will be eating items picked from the nearest tree and foraged from the wild woods of Chile.

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This girl before she realized she’d be paying a whole lot of money to eat foilage.

Especially leaves. So, so, so many leaves. A cornucopia, if you will.

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We had dry leaves next to a cube of grilled lamb.

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Pickled leaves sheltering some grilled octopus, aka: murder-y plate.

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Slimy seaweed type leaves over a tiny piece of fish.

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Leaf sandwiches with a couple of water crackers and a schmear of cream stuff in between.

Then, of course, there was the rock soup. Literal rocks—one of which is covered with a black bean paste and two are covered with some sort of gelatin—over which a rock broth is poured. You are then instructed to “scrape the rocks” and make your own bean soup.

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It was all….a bit much. We’re pretty adventurous eaters. Sidenote: My sister was asking me about this just recently, and said: “When did y’all start…..or why do you…. eat stuff that’s like…ummmm….not American?” Which legitimately made me chortle and snort. And then I said, “I don’t think you mean un-American, I think you mean, like, unconventional stuff.” Which—thankfully—she confirmed was what she meant, pointing out that I have willingly eaten rabbit, which she considers a no-go.

Oh, dear younger Poe. I’ve eaten so much weirder stuff than rabbit. Like, (below) raw kambucha fashioned as meat and a side of Pewan (aka, tree bark, I think!)

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And we love a big tasting menu event. We trust chefs and want to go on a journey with them into what inspires them. We consider it all very much theater or art you can eat.

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It’s ummm, pretty, I guess.

But Borago definitely had us scratching our heads. We’re cool with being inspired by your country’s flora. But honestly? Almost nothing was very tasty. We just weren’t into the flavors. Or the flowers. I feel bad about it, but that was just the way it worked out this time.

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That’s fine. When we got back home on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, my own personal-forager/chef-for-life XFE struck out into the wilds of our local Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter stores and made me a fantastic, totally American Thanksgiving feast with nary a leaf or rabbit in sight. My Thanksgiving meal at Borago made me appreciate and love it all the more.

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Ah yes. More like it.

(XFE was also inspired to rake up all the leaves in our backyard that weekend, while I toyed with the idea of reaching out to Borago to see if they’d like to buy some.)

A Few Reason Autumn Blows (Including Blowing Leaves)

I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I do not like Fall, also known as the Season of Death and Decay, which precedes the Season of White Hell and Hibernation (snow). Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I hate about Fall (which just means there could be a part two at some point).

Tights – Fall brings on the advent of the tights. In theory, tights are cute and very necessary. I actually like the way they look and the warmth they provide. I like the fact that very opaque ones allow me to wear short skirts to work with my knee high boots.

However, I do not enjoy putting them on. It takes a lot of hopping around and contorting to get them on, and invariably, one leg gets twisted around, usually right at the top of the thigh. The toe seams never run along the toes.  And the butt seam always does its own thing. By noon, the knees are saggy, which is so interesting considering the fact that the waistband is tight enough to cut me in half, leaving marks and creating a very unflattering line under my clothes. And being encased in nylon/lycra/torture material for an entire 9 hours makes me itchy by the end of the day. I basically rip them off the moment I get home.

This is basically what it looks like when I’m trying to put on tights in the morning.

Leaves – Remember all those beautiful red and orange leaves on the trees? Yeah, those things fall to the ground. And then they need to be dealt with. Like, raked and wrassled into a big black bag. Which is like, work. Unpaid work. Mind you, they’re usually all gray and soggy by that point, another unpleasant reality. We don’t even have a single tree on our property and yet, I have leaves all over my front garden and back yard. And they just keep coming. Every damn weekend.

We don’t even own any trees.

Pumpkins – The pumpkin cult goes full blast this time of year. People lose their ever-loving minds over pumpkin everything. “ERMAGAHD, Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes are out!!!” — Y’all do know that pumpkin is available other times of the year, right? I’ve seen canned pumpkin on the shelves of Trader Joe’s pretty much year round (unlike their fondue, which is only a seasonal thing – a fact that I think is abhorrent). I’ve also had a pumpkin flavored muffin in the spring, if you can imagine such a thing. I’ve even had pumpkin stuffed ravioli in summer!

And, everybody goes out and buys (or even more of a cliche, goes to a farm and picks) a pumpkin and puts it on their doorstep. You know what happens when you leave a piece of fruit or vegetable sitting outside for weeks, exposed to the elements? Nothing nice, let me tell you. And walking past all those rotting pumpkins on my way to work does not make me want a damn pumpkin latte.

Layering – I cannot grasp the concept of layering. Here’s the deal with me and layering: If I’m wearing a sweater over a blouse, that blouse probably has something wrong with it. Maybe I didn’t iron it, or maybe the buttons pull or gap, or maybe I spilled something on it, but wanted to wear it anyway. With layering, you’re supposed to take off layers as you get warmer, but as you can see, my under layers probably aren’t appropriate and should not be worn on their own.

And, let’s just suppose, that in fact, all my layers are in perfect order and proportion to whatever I’m wearing on the bottom. It warms up a tad bit and I’m ready to shed a trench, and blazer, and sweater, and a scarf, or whatever. What are you supposed to do with the layers you’ve taken off? You’re required to carry them around all damn day. That’s annoying. I cannot keep up with all those clothes.

Blake probably has someone to carry all her discarded layers.

Lethargy – I don’t know if it’s the shorter days or if I have some sort of seasonal disorder or what, but I have ZERO motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch, light tons of overpriced candles, and eat pasta and bread topped with copious amounts of cheese, butter, and cream and baked until it’s scalding hot. Getting to the gym is almost impossible. Why would I leave the nice warm house? Don’t even think about asking me to go to happy hour. I’ve got to scurry home and put on my yoga pants and slippers and ratty house sweater. I can’t even get excited about going shopping, which is pretty much sacrilegious. I need to shop. I live to shop. And there’s all those layers that must be procured.

So there you have it. My top five reasons I hate Fall. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put on some layers, including tights, and emerge from my groundhog’s hole to go get a pumpkin spice latte. I think it will go quite nicely with my baked pumpkin macaroni and cheese.