Kuchen and other signs of German Immigrants in (southern) Chile

The lake region in southern Chile is full of signs of German immigrants, which can be a bit scary (at least for a german), as it seems out of place. It just seems weird that there are such strong influences that are still visible. Unlike in Namibia, I rarely heard anyone speak german, though, which came as a relief (that would have been even more awkward). However, a surprising number of Chileans speak quite a bit of german – even if their ancestors were not german speaking – and there seems to be a positive attitude towards germany and the germans in general (something you wouldn’t necessarily encounter in many countries in the world, be it for historical or cultural reasons).

There is one german word that even made it into chilean spanish: “Kuchen” (cake). Chileans LOVE Kuchen and they eat it at any time of the day, even for breakfast (something I have only experienced in parts of southern germany – it is definitely not that common in my home country).20150325_123324

However, if you ask german travellers what they miss most while travelling you will never get Kuchen as an answer. It is always, yes, always, BREAD! Unfortunately the early immigrants either didn’t know how to bake good bread (unlikely, as they knew how to make good Kuchen) or no-one wanted to eat it and it vanished eventually (unthinkable!) or the bread that we are used to nowadays was only introduced in Germany after the emigration wave. If anyone knows, your input is much appreciated! (I only found one bakery, in Pucon, that had amazing german bread and I bought a loaf and inhaled it’s wonderful smell before indulging in the taste – the bakery is called “Rostock”, most certainly after the german city with that same name, and it’s on O’Higgins). 20150326_114723

Here is something esle that I much appreciated: beer brewed after the german Reinheitsgebot, meaning it only contains hops, malt, yeast and water. One brewery even uses a german subslogan: “Das gute Bier” (the good beer). 20150325_232608

In the region around Puerto Varas and especially in the german colonial town Frutillar all Klischees were confirmed: houses, names, Kuchen, sausage dogs – and fjnally I even found some “Gartenzwerge” (garden gnomes)!

Purto Varas with view of Osorno Volcano and Llanquihue Lake
Purto Varas with view of Osorno Volcano and Llanquihue Lake
Church in Frutillar
Church in Frutillar


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