Tired of the Typical Happy Hour? Try Out the Chilean Tradition of 'Once'
Although Argentina often gets called the most European country in South America, its next door neighbor Chile does have some strong influences left over from the colonial days. One of the most surprising is "Once," a Chilean late-in-the-day snack or small meal that almost always involves tea.
There are two different theories about how Once got its name. The first is that Once (pronounced “oan-say”) is Spanish for “eleven,” and the tradition comes out of the British habit of Elevenses. However, the Chilean version is served later in the day – most people in Chile eat their largest meal at lunchtime and then eat a lighter meal later that night.
The other theory is that Chileans would sometimes sneak out of work or other obligations to begin drinking around 5 or 6 PM. They would often drink aguardiente (aka brandy). Since aguardiente has eleven letters, "once" became the code word.
Regardless of which version is true, we can’t deny that Once is a pretty delicious way to wind down after a long work day. Like Elevenses, Once usually consists of tea, some sandwiches, and cake or other sweets. Chileans absolutely love their sweets, so be ready for chocolates, cookies, or even ice cream in the hotter months.