Not everyone knows about Chile’s obsession with avocado. Most of us up north identify it with Mexico and what has become a party staple, guacamole, and while the Aztecs cultivated the original fruit, the Chileans took to it like ducks to water, and they now mainly enjoy it as a condiment in its puréed form. All this is to say that in Chile, no sandwich (or hot dog, another national passion) should ever be eaten without a nice spread of avocado.
That’s rule one. Rule two of traveling and eating within Chile is that roadside eats are definitely worth stopping for, but use a map to plan accordingly because along the Pan-American Highway, stands selling a certain type of food are all grouped together. So if you want choripan (and you do — it’s longaniza sausage on a roll) or chanco artisanal cheese, they are only sold along specific mile markers. Then there are the truck stops like Cecinas Soler, where you can park and sit at a table with wait service.
About three hours outside of Santiago along the Pan-American just inside the exit for Curico, Cecinas Soler is a must when traveling north on the epic highway. The clean, well-lit shop also functions as a deli, where you can get cuts of Cecinas Soler-brand salami, ham, and other cured meats to go, but most people go for the piled-high sandwiches. There are 13 sandwiches on the menu and a separate list of add-ons, like cheese, tomato, etc., but the one to order is the lomo, which is thin slices of pork tenderloin, topped with cheese, avocado, and a fried egg.
You could stop at the fried egg, but when you’ve been driving for hours at breakneck speeds, with 18-wheelers trundling beside you, you’ll need the extra protein to keep you going. Plus, the soft yolk breaks and adds both moisture and unctuousness to the pile of sliced tenderloin. The avocado spread and melted cheese hold it all together, delivering one rich, messy, gut-buster of a sandwich. Personally, I eat with my hands whenever appropriate since it’s a more visceral experience, but this was one of the rare times I ended up taking a knife and fork to a sandwich.
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