Don Sergio is a Porteño from Valparaiso that makes a little money from his home’s door by selling alfajores and empanadas artesanales. My first experience with Don Sergio was during a graffiti tour around Valpo that neared its end at Pasaje Bavestrello (a passageway between hilly streets). As we walked down the steps we saw a crowed of other tourists standing at the inconspicuous door midway with a small wooden sign hanging above. It reads: “Alfajores Artesanales $200 c/u”.
An Australian woman in my group said:
Is that the shop that sells the chocolate covered biscuits with caramel in the middle?
Another man replied:
Yea and they’re only $200 ($0.30 USD).
My reaction: WAT.
What a tasty dessert to end the two hours of walking we did around Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion to learn more about Valpo’s graffiti artists and collaborations. I noticed Don Sergio also carried empanadas and saw some of my tour-mates buy a few. I had just had lunch before the tour started but my appetite could stomach one. As we continued down the Pasaje, I had second thoughts and started to climb back up to make the second purchase, but the door was closed! Oh well.
The next day I took a more historical tour around Valpo and midway through the tour, where did we end up? Don Sergio’s door! The tour guide introduced us to Don Sergio and he treated us to an alfajor as a tour treat. The house rules were also explained. Don Sergio is always home, you just have to ring his bell and he’ll open up for business.
I wish I’d known that the day before!
It wasn’t quite lunch time and I had plans to check out a market for some fresh seafood later that day so I held off temptation to buy an empanada, I would plan to eat one for dinner instead.
The house rules failed me, I went to Don Sergio’s door too late into the night. After the third unanswered bell, I walked away. However, I was determined to have one of Don Sergio’s before I left Valpo. The hostel I was staying in was conveniently up the street from Don Sergio’s door, so after checking out, I lugged my stuff over to Pasaje Bavestrello and rang the bell.
Success, Don Sergio came to the door and offered me his daily menu:
Alfajores, empanadas de pino (beef) o salmon y queso.
Cual me recomienda? Which one do you recommend?
Salmon y queso.
Ok, una de salmon y queso.
Don Sergio went away for a second and then came back out with a warm empanada. $1200 ($1.80 USD).
Esa es la que le gusta a los gringos That’s the one white people like.
Wat. Don Sergio, why would you recommend that one to ME?? 😛
Don Sergio noticed my duffel bag and trekking pack and asked where I was headed.
Santiago, a la estación de autobuses. To Santiago, via the bus station.
Don Sergio put his index finger to his eye and then pointed down to my stuff.
Tenga mucho cuidado, pele los ojos. Be careful, keep your eyes open.
As I stood in the sun-light biting into the chewy dough to devour the flaked salmon enveloped in a cheesy glob, a tour neared the bottom of the stairs. The tour guide began her introduction to Don Sergio’s shop and the house rules. I signaled to him that he would be having some customers soon. He nodded and closed the door to get ready for the group welcoming.
Thanks for looking out for me, Don Sergio, and thank you for the tasty last meal in Valparaiso.
Street photography has always been an activity that I approach with hesitation. I live in a city where the minutiae to some delights me. Basically, there is a lot of people watching one can do. I call...