Published: April 27th 2012April 26th 2012
Iquqiue is really Ique Ique. I learnt this fact whilst wandering about the regional museum today. It is the local indiginous word meaning peace and tranquility. I can see what they mean. With constant sunshine, great beach around the corner, the ocean sweeping in, surfing, paragliding it will be difficult to leave, but leave I must. I have visited so far 11 of the 12 regions of Chile, and have one to go before crossing the border with Peru.
In the museum I also saw a small shark with two heads in a bottle of formaldehyde and pictures of folks who lived in the town during its heyday of nitrate mining. There was no door musuem, which was a blessing but in some of the photos of the folks, doors were clearly visible.
But it turned out to be a very weird day indeed for I later I met the king of porn, Ron Jeremy and drank the balls of sea urchins.
So, I decided to leave on friday and talked though my plans with Rich the lumberjack ( who is still OK) and his sister Stacey. Yep, sounds good. They want to tag along too so will
be a good combo heading north.
We decided that we would throw a barbeque in the hostel. Gonzalo is a chef who lives in the hostal and works nearby. His English is good but not that good. His pronunciation is a little off and sometimes he struggles for the correct word to use during a conversation. Having a BBQ today was perfect for him because it was his day off, and perfect for us because we would have a professional chef cooking the barbeque whilst we drank beer.
So first things first. Food. The four of us, Rich, Stacey, Gonzalo and me set off in a cab to a market on the outskirts of town. I love markets on foreign coutries. No European rules, with bananas all the same size and trip hazard signs everywhere when someone drops a bottle of ketchup.
This was an market full of colour and life. Row upon row of fresh fruit and veg. No organic section here. Everything was organic. Meat, fish you name it, it was for sale. We picked up some decent nosh for the BBQ at good prices.<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255,
255, 0.917969);" />At the fish counter was tubs of various shellfish. One was of a brown liquid with something in it."urchin eggs." says Gonzalo picking one up "Very tasty and very good for you."" sea urchin eggs?" I say. "and you eat these?"" yes- they are good for your system"I examined the tub. I guess caviar is eaten and they are eggs so these must be the same. I have only ever eaten caviar once in my life and then it was with small slices of what I think was toast set in the surroundings of a five star hotel cum restaurant at a very posh do indeed. I enjoyed caviar.However this was a plastic tub of sea urchin eggs in water set in a one star market in downtown Iquique.<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size:
13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.917969);" />So I bought a tub for 2000 pesos. I was with a professional chef after all. Took the lid off. Swimming in the slightly brown solution were tiny white objects which looked the same as a child's first tooth when it falls out for the tooth fairy. Same shape size and colour but these had tiny little fronds, like a number one haircut down one side.Tried one.Fuck me, they were fucking disgusting!Small white globules of intense salt flavour, swimming in a slightly brown and very salty sea water.Good for me?Good for the market seller who is now 2000 pesos up more like!Rich and Stacey eat some and are equally unimpressed. Much hanging out of
Pisco sour. NOW!!
absolutely revolting. and the smell? overpowering
tongues saying "urghhh"They are really, really salty . Now I have eaten some strange things in my previous travels like chickens feet and fried cockroach in South East Asia but this was something else.Small and white, they have a musty flavour , if you can call what was in my mouth flavour. As I i was trying the chew this Chilean delicasy I overcame the urge to spit it out and managed to swallow. Stacey commented that there was a peculiar salty familiarity about them but I put it down to the sea water the urchins and their eggs must have been until harvested.Gonzalo meanwhile is tucking in.A man sat on a chair behind us was raising his right arm up and down from the elbow with a clenched fist whilst holding his elbow joint with his left hand, imitating that of a full blown male erection.<br style="font-family:
arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.917969);" />Amazing isn't it. Two separate languages but when it comes to the reproductive process, non verbal communication is the same around the world."Muy fuerte" -very strong he shouted with a large toothless smile and at the same time pulling a face as if he was about to use his large erect appendage on some poor unsuspecting woman. -unlikely looking at the state of him.Gonzalo, with a mouthful of this revolting gloop says"man. I love sea urchin balls" he says"pardon? Did you just say balls as in these things?" as a grabbed my crotch."si si, these are the balls of sea urchins""sorry. Gonzalo, but you said these were eggs."<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif;
font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.917969);" />"si, the little eggs of the male urchin, their balls. Very tasty" as he shovelled in another mouthful"Holy fuckeroli Batman!!!The raw bollocks of a MALE sea urchin swimming in a saline solution.?.......in my mouth!!"no wonder they taste so fucking salty" says Stacey.I look at Rich and he back at me." I never thought the day would come when I would voluntarily have a pair of balls in my mouth" said Rich "Not unless it was at gunpoint" I added.Gonzalo was chuckling away to himself. "We keep and drink with Pisco later. Much nicer. "I decided I needed a cigarette. Seemed
appropriate given the circumstances.The journey back to the hostel was full of double entendres, most of which are too crude for this blog and were for the moment and would now be lost in translation. But suffice to say it is the first time I have ever I have taken a cab ride home with a stomach full of balls and semen from a sea urchin.Disco out.On return to the hostel Gonzalo breaks out the Pisco and the blender to turn the sea urchin gonads into a delicious drink.Trying to think of a few names for this new cocktail as it was being prepared we settled on 'piss-balls'. Seemed appropriate. Good play on words from Rich.Ingredients to make the new cocktail 'piss-balls':<br
style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.917969);" />You will need a blender and:1. Tub of sea urchin testicles swimming in a slightly brown saline solution.2. Bottle of neat Pisco.3. Tub of salt.4. Pepper.5. Corriander or similar.6. Bottle of ready made Pisco sour, or Pisco mango. Any sweet Pisco based drink will do but needs a wide opening at the top, not a narrow one.How to make:1. Into the blender pour the tub of sea urchin nuts and the solution it swims in.2. Add a good measure of Pisco.3. Add salt.4. Add salt.5. Add salt."Gonzalo" I said, "don't you think they are salty enough already . After all they are the raw testes of a sea urchin, already full of there own salty flavour and swimming in a semanny salty sea water solution.""don't worry. It is for the Pisco to quickly marinate into them. It will be delicious, you'll see'I must admit I was beginning to doubt Gonzalos chef credentials. He works at a local sushi restaurant in town. The Chileans are mad for sushi and there are new sushi businesses opening up everywhere. Gonzalo, the raw fish chef.No one ever ate raw fish before they called it Sushi. No doubt started in Japan by two brothers when the oven they were supposed to cook the fish in did not work."What shall we do now? We have a hundred guests coming to eat. How can we open our restaurant with no functioning kitchen? " says brother #1."chop it up and serve it law" says brother #2. " loll some sticky lice and reaves from the garden around it and they will never notice""What shall we call it, piss-balls is already taken?.""well, if they all fall violently ill they will take us, the chefs, to court , so lets call it ..... suethechef? , sueme? sueci,?"sushi? " says brother #1And so the name was born. Two brothers who, because the oven in the restaurant was broken, when serving up their raw fish would tell the diners that if they did not like what they were eating and became sick, to 'sue me.'Anyways I digress. History lesson over. Back to the action:6. Add pepper7. Chop up Corriander and add to mixture.8 . Fire up the blender and whizz around for about 20 seconds. ( that is the liquid in the blender that whizzes around, not you. You must stand still and hold onto the plate you have put over the top of the blender because the correct top is missing)Pour into a shot glassAs you can imagine this display of cocktail excellence drew a small crowd. There was enough to go round."cheers, salut" etcDown in one.You may have noticed I have not mentioned item six yet, the bottle of Pisco sour or similar with a wide bottle opening. You will need this now to take away the taste of the most vile, disgusting intensely salt brown liquidated sea urchin balls drink ever. The wide opening is because you will not have time to pour yourself a glass and you will want to tip the whole bottle into your mouth as quickly as possible.Absolutely #ing vile.Gonzalo? Drank the lot.Salut you Chilean nutter.Disco out.So the day already had weird sexual undertones, and it was about to get more surreal.You know the first time I ever watched a real porn film was during the miners strike in 1984. This was the days of video recorders and large cassette tapes. There were only four TV channels -BBC 1 & 2, ITV and countdown on Channel 4.The mobile phone was the size of a briefcase and was used for making telephone calls only. No such thing as the internet, surfing was confined to the beach and browsing is what your partner would do in clothes shops whilst you looked around for the nearest bar.To pass the time we would zip down the nearest town and rent a TV and VCR for a week. Amongst the movies to watch would be grainy 5th or 6th generation copies of pornographic movies. This was the first time I came across* a famous actor of that genre Ron Jeremy.A short man of Latin American apperance. Olive/tanned skin and balding dome with long hair from his earline to his shoulders. Thick black moustache. Kinda dumpy looking with pot belly and moobs and yet seemed to be having an awful lot of fun with various actresses of that similar genre of movie in locations around the west coast of America.So it was during the BBQ that Ron Jeremy turned up! A Chilean man who was a true doppelgänger. He looked exactly like him, the way he moved, the way he talked. Same facial expressions.It was so weird.I asked Rich for his opinion. Being a lumberjack, out in minus 40 degrees chopping down trees in the wilds of Canada with fellow men hundreds of miles from the nearest town there was just an outside chance he would know who I was talking about."#ing A!" says he.I pointed to our guest."holy #" says he. "A real life movie star (of that particular genre) at our BBQ. "I expected at that moment for the cast of the Fast Show to appear dressed as stereotypical Swedish/Dutch movie directors asking, in the fake Dutch accent " can we shoot schum porrn here?"A strange day with weirder sexual undertones.We partied the night away under the stars with the star until the small hours. Gonzalo proved he is a professional chef as the food that he prepared and the steaks and meat he cooked was delicious. People were constantly arriving at the hostel, getting wind a party was on, then running out to the shops and coming back with more booze and meat to barbeque.
Luckily Ron decided not to show us all why he so famous. That would have been too much for one day, what with the balls of small sea creatures still digesting inside me. I think I might just have thrown up.Disco out* not sure if that pun is intended, but have kept it in anyway