Chile in London: Hidden Reminders of Chile in London

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Chilean blogger Maria Jose Ovalle, writer of (@verybusymama on twitter) tells us about her hidden reminders of Chile in London for our World in London project

Being homesick is a feeling like no other. A strange feeling of unpleasantness comes over you. Living away from the sights, smells, and noises you are accustomed to leaves you feeling like you don’t belong.

I have been an expat for a big part of my life, yet I always feel a pull to Chile, the long skinny country in the last corner of the earth. I have been living in London for five years with my American husband and our son, and despite Chile not having a large community here in the UK, I find London is scattered with little bits of Chile among the busy streets, even if it’s only me who sees the similiarities.

Those hidden reminders of Chile in every corner of the city always bring a smile to my face. Getting on the Tube one day I was transported back to riding the subway in Santiago all those years ago. Seeing children walking to school in their matching uniforms reminds me of being rushed off to school by my mother and adjusting my tie before heading out the door. Sitting down to have a cup of tea and cake on a cold winter day reminds me of being in my grandmother’s house and the warmth of the kitchen after baking all afternoon. On a recent family walk in leafy Richmond, I came across a small statue in honour of our founding father Bernardo O’Higgins. I always knew it was there, but not planning to come across it brightened up my day.

Chile has been in the news quite a bit lately, with the devastating earthquake in February, our long-awaited appearance at the World Cup in South Africa and most recently with the rescue of the miners. These events really made me realise just how much I miss my home, my people, my foods (even if I am thousands of miles away) and helps refuel my national pride even more.

I have a pretty good group of Chilean friends here and we tend to have dinners and barbeques. Nothing like a barbeque among friends and familiar accents. When my husband and I are craving a little something special like Chilean “empanadas”, we head over to El Vergel. You won’t find any other Chilean restaurants in London, but this small, quaint café does the trick. Just the smell of fresh baked bread brings tears to my eyes. The restaurant serves South American cuisine, but it is Chilean through and through.

I write about life as a new parent, being an expat and bringing up my son bilingually on my blog Mummy’s Busy World. I may not be in Chile, but London never fails to deliver a little piece of home to me in its own special way.

Do you know any more hidden Chilean gems in London? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Denise says:

    Lleno de nostalgia… me encanta. I know those feelings.

  2. Paula says:

    oh gracias es tan bueno saber que algo de chile esta aqui en inglaterra.
    Vivo en devon y tengo unas ganas de probar comida chilena :) por suerte ire a londres pronto gracias :) !!

  3. Romina Zucca says:

    sabes acerca de alguna “picada” donde se hara algo para septiembre…en londres??? at this moment i’m living in eastbourne, but i really want to celebrate ” a la chilena” you know ! hahhah

  4. iola says:

    hola! estoy buscando merquén aqui en londres- lo habras encontrado en tus caminos?

    gracias y feliz anio !!

  5. Victoria says:

    Que bueno saber que hay algo de Chile en Inglaterra. Hace tiempo que vivo en Australia, y donde estoy no hay nada de nada Chileno. Ni una empanadita. Mi hermana fue a Chile de visita hace poco y me trajo la pila de Super 8’s, jugos Zuko y pailas de greda para mis Cazuelas <3 En Mayo voy a estar viajando a Londres con mi parega por 12+ meses y me alegra mucho saber que hayan locales que hagan pan amasado, churrascos y empanadas. :)

  6. Ivan says:

    Hola a todo espero q Esten bien yo ase poco jege a London y Es bueno de saber que hay Argo de chile aca me guestaria conoser mas chilenos aca para ser me amigos it would be really nice if any one wants to add me feel free to do so I’m 26 yrs old n would love to learn more about London

  7. Mari says:

    Hola a todos! Yo no soy Chilena pero amo el merken por casualidad saben Donde lo puedo comprar en London la ultima vez lo compre en amazon en NYC y necesito comprarlo i! Lo amo

  8. adrian says:

    parece que hay mas chilenos en inglaterra de lo que creen. por donde voy me sale algun chileno!
    iba a tratar el vergel pero vi el menu y la verdad no hay mucho chileno mas que las empanadas. quiero cazuela, pastel de choclo etc sin tener que hacerlo yo mismo!
    saludos a todos y espero todos lo hayan pasado bien para el 18 de alguna manera.

  9. Alessandro says:

    Hola a todos
    Yo soy italiano estuve en chile pololeando por un año. … hace seis meses volví en europa pero…. tengo el corazón partido por mi chilenita y por esto lindo pais “angosto”

  10. Carole says:

    Hey, there is a large Chilean community in the UK and has been since the 1970s, there are also large numbers of student and workers coming over from 2000 onwards!

  11. Philip says:

    Hola, my girlfriend is from Chile and now lives with me in London. I’m keen, on her behalf, to find out where we can watch Chile play in the World Cup, amongst fellow Chileans.

  12. Elizabeth Spencer says:

    Hola, vivo en nottingham hace muchos anos y no hay chilenos por aca, me gustaria probar comida chilena pero no hay ningun restaurante, tambien me gustaria encontrar chilenos en Inglaterra.