Go to Korea and ask for Korean BBQ. You’ll be directed to a bulgogi restaurant. Go to France and ask for French fries. You’ll be directed to a gourmet restaurant called McDonald’s. Go to Chile and ask for Chilean sea bass and you’ll receive perplexed looks.
After a day of wine tasting, I needed to eat. Naturally, I thought that Chile would be home to the best Chilean sea bass. When I asked the host at Laura Hartwig for a restaurant that served it, he looked at me like I was crazy. He proceeded to Google Chilean sea bass and still had no idea what it was.
After conducting my own investigation, I learned that there’s no such thing as Chilean sea bass in Chile. Like Patron, it is a hoax purported by marketers to get Americans to pay a premium for novelty. Hake, the distant, ugly cousin of the Antarctic toothfish, is exported to the US and marketed as Chilean sea bass. While it may taste better than standard sea bass, it does not make it worthy of its high price point in restaurants.
‘Chilean Sea Bass’ at Casa Colchugua
Before heading back to Santiago, I had to try Chilean fish, no matter what it was called. Everyone in town recommended Casa Colchagua. I ordered the ‘hake’ aka ‘Chilean sea bass’ and was impressed. In contrast, whether it’s Peruvian or Chilean, I am not a fan of the pisco sour. On the other hand, after ordering the Chilean ceviche, I can definitively say that I prefer the Peruvian style.
This experience makes me wonder what other marketing tricks I have fallen for. Next I’m going to find out that Foster’s isn’t Australian for beer. And Olive Garden isn’t authentic Italian food.