Food is memory. My memories of places are informed by the taste of the sweet things I ate there.
Kuchen in Chile
I arrived in Puerto Varas after a long journey south from my home, Valparaiso, via Puerto Montt. I had one thing on my mind: kuchen.
Kuchen, a sweet tart with crispy exterior, arrived in Chile with mid-19th century German immigrants, many of whom settled in the cute little European-styled southern town of Puerto Varas. There are all sorts of adventurous things to do in Puerto Varas; whitewater rafting, hiking, sailing, but my mission was purely gastronomic. I was going to have a slice of kuchen from every cafe in town.
I don’t think I quite met my goal but I distinctly remember eating four slices on my first evening.I tried it in all kinds of flavors, like strawberry, rhubarb and something called murta — something like a small cranberry.
I remember sitting in a little cafe where the menu was in Spanish and German, watching the rain beat against the window, sipping tea, writing in my journal and taking slow bites of raspberry filled kuchen. I remember feeling that I had finally found a cozy feeling I had been missing since leaving London six months earlier.