Machas la parmesana or “Parmesan machas” is a dish made with the macha. This is a saltwater clam, a bivalve that is native to Chile. This bivalve is known scientifically as Mesodesma donacium and in English is called either the pink clam, or the surf clam. The dish also includes Parmesan cheese.
This classic of Chilean cuisine was created more than 50 years ago in Viña del Mar by the Italian immigrant Edoardo Melotti Ferrari. There is no previous record of the dish before the 1950s.
The dish is popular along the coast of Chile, where the macha can be found in great numbers. It is prepared with the meat of the macha in one half of the shell, covered in Parmesan cheese, a little butter and seasoned with white wine or a drop of lemon, and then baked for a few minutes.
There are several different variations of this dish: the same ingredients can be combined in a Paila (clay dish); the Parmesan can be replaced with the Chilean cheese queso mantecoso; it can be prepared with cream added or with sliced garlic added; and it can be made using other types of clams rather than machas.
Almejas a la parmesana (a variation using a species of venus clams)