The marraqueta (also called pan francés (“French bread”) in the south of Chile and pan batido (“whipped bread” - but see history below) in the Valparaíso Region), is a soft bread made with flour, salt, water and yeast. The Chilean marraqueta is, strictly speaking, a se-tenant pair of small rolls, baked with another pair attached, comprising four rolls in total; some confusion can be caused when ordering one marraqueta, as this may be interpreted as either two or four rolls. It has a crunchy texture, and is most popular in Chile, Bolivia and Peru (where it has only two sections and is called pan francés) but can also be found in Argentina and Uruguay.
Currently marraqueta is the most widely consumed bread in Chile and is used as toast, in sandwiches and as a binder for certain recipes such as pastel de carne (meatloaf). It is widely considered the quintessential Chilean staple food.
Many historians agree that the marraqueta originated in Valparaíso, Chile in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when major Chilean ports such as Valparaíso and Talcahuano received thousands of European immigrants. The story goes the bread was invented by two French baker brothers in Valparaíso whose last name was Marraquette, and the bread went on to became very popular among Chileans in a very short time. This story would explain both the marraqueta and pan francés names. In Valparaíso itself, somewhat confusingly, marraqueta means the four small rolls while half of this is called pan batido, the use of which is a shibboleth of Porteño identity (but is ignored by national supermarket chains).
An alternative theory of the bread’s origin was proposed by French naturalist and botanist Claude Gay, who suggested that marraqueta was first eaten in Chile in the 18th century. This story is implausible, given the marraqueta's reliance on distinctive French baking techniques imported to Paris from Vienna in the 1830s.
Marraqueta is made from flour, water, yeast and salt. It does not contain fat and the proofing process takes longer than other breads. The unusual form of the four buns allows to be divided it very easily.