“Once:” An Evening Snack from Chile

The Kids Enjoying Las Once- Kid World CitizenThe story of this snack from Chile goes like this: back in the 1800’s, workers in the fields and mines had a chance to take a small break and get a bite to eat. It was prohibited from drinking alcohol, and so with each other they used the code word once, (meaning “11” and pronounced own-say) to signify aguardiente, an alcoholic drink that contains 11 letters in its name. Another similar legend has men using the term once in front of women, to clandestinely have a sip of their drink.  Once began to evolve as more and more of the population used the word to signify the light meal taken as a break in the day. Today, in modern Chile, once refers to a light dinner or evening snack that consists of coffee or tea, and delicious bread with cheese, marmalade, or other accompaniments. Have you ever come home from a big midday meal, didn’t want to make dinner, and didn’t know what to feed the kids? Here is your fresh and delicious answer–  nutritious and ready in under 5 minutes.

Ingredients for las Once- Kid World Citizen

A Limon in Chile- Kid World Citizen

A limón growing in Santiago, Chile. Photo credit: Christine Mladic.

The dish you are going to prepare is commonly eaten in Santiago, the capital of Chile. First let’s pronounce Chile correctly: “chee-lay,” not “chilly.” Chile is the long and skinny country next to Argentina in the bottom cone of South America. The Andes Mountains, the backbone of the continent, run from the north to the southern tip. There is another, lower range of mountains that runs along the coast (aptly named the Chilean Coastal Range).

A Market in Chile- Kid World Citizen

A produce market in Santiago, Chile. Photo credit: Christine Mladic

Once- Palta- Kid World CitizenBetween these 2 cordilleras, is the fertile Central Valley of Chile- home to the thriving agricultural industry that exports the plums and grapes the northern hemisphere enjoys during its winter months. Next time you are at the supermarket in the winter (if you live in the US, Canada or Europe), check out the origin of your fruits and vegetables! SO many come from Chile!

To make this kid-friendly snack from Chile, you’ll need some good bread, an avocado (called palta in Chilean Spanish), a lemon and salt. Chileans use a type of bread roll called marraqueta. Halve the avocado and take out the seed. Scoop out the avocado’s flesh into a bowl, and smash it with a fork. Then add some lemon juice and salt, and spread the tangy, creamy, fresh mixture onto your crusty bread. Palta, lemon and salt on bread- it is that easy!

Palta para Once- Kid World Citizen

Pan Para Once- Kid World Citizen

Once in Santiago de Chile. Photo credit: Christine Mladic

This snack from Chile is a healthy, after-school treat for kids! Do you know any quick, kid-friendly, international recipes? I would love to learn more!

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  1. Annye says

    A tomar once!!!! por lo general esta comida es a las 20.00hrs viendo teleseries y con toda la familia en torno a la mesa.
    La marraqueta tostada es lo mejor que hay!!! le puedes poner mantequilla y unos huevos revueltos y queda maravilloso!!!!
    Otra forma rica de tomar once es una marraqueta con queso derretido y un bueeeen tazón de té o café!

  2. jfc says

    We frequently have “once” here and it will include marraqueta, ham, goat cheese, avocado, tomato and sometimes a little cake or dainty. Of course your tea or coffee. Its a relaxing meal for the whole family and a great time to share together.


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