August 19, 2008
If you ever visit Chile, one of the things you have to do is go south. One of the most impressive parts of Chile is Patagonia, and the gate to Patagonia is the Chilean lake district. Germans were the first Europeans to settle in the lake region in southern Chile around 1850. They transformed this wild area – covered by a dense temperate rainforest – into a very productive land, where dairy products became a staple. The weather is like Seattle or Vancouver, and the landscape reminds you a bit of Switzerland: there are gorgeous mountains, majestic lakes, cute German-like towns… and snow-capped volcanoes! There are plenty of things to do, especially outdoor activities – hiking, trekking, kayaking… – because an important part of the temperate rainforest is still there, and it’s the only place in South America where you can find that!
And if it’s raining, a very likely event to happen (just ask someone from Vancouver), the best thing you can do is to have some Kuchen. I love Kuchen, which is like the Chilean crostata or pie. If you know some German you surely know that Kuchen means cake in German, so it’s kind of funny that the ultimate Chilean cake has a German name. Kuchen is so popular you can find it everywhere in Chile, even in every supermarket and of course in every bakery. But if you want to have the real thing you must eat it in places like Frutillar, Nueva Braunau, or Puerto Octay, where the historic houses still evoke the German colonization.
Another thing you have to know is that when it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter down there. Pretty obvious, but just in case…
Italian-Chilean peach Kuchen