Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Peruvian food boom
Peruvians are very proud of their cuisine. Once you get into that subject, Peruvians can’t stop talking about it. The melange of Andean, Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese with some Italian and French influences make of this food a varied and exquisite fare. Lima has been declared the gastronomical capital of the Americas and according to several tourism operators, the “Peruvian gastronomical tours” have increased dramatically this millennium. That means that some tourists visit Peru just to try its food. In 2004, The Economist magazine said that "Peru can lay claim to one of the world's dozen or so great cuisines. "
Potatoes are native to the Andes and according to the International Potato Center Peru produces 2,400 varieties of this tuber. So imagine the variety of dishes that Peruvians create with potatoes. Try the “Papa a la Huancaína,” “Causa Limeña” or “Papa Rellena.” But the most popular Peruvian dish is “ceviche,” (pictured left) chunks of sea fish marinated in lime juice, chile peppers and onions. Seafood is popular in this country since the generous Pacific Ocean that bathes the entire coast produces a huge variety of fish, like sea bass, sole, corvina, cod, snapper and an enormous array of other fruits of the sea like octopus, mussels, clams, shrimp, crab, squid, and scallops. A whole cornucopia that can also be part of the ceviche. Africans contributed with the cooking styles and the use of everything that was eatable. Chinese brought the use of rice (Peruvians eat rice every day) and the sauteing technique along with the use of soy sauce and ginger. Later, the Japanese, Italian and French immigrants brought their own additions.
Peru produces its own kind of native chile peppers (ají,) which offer its food a unique taste. Most of its dishes have ají to give color and flavor. The Peruvian salsa, called "salsa criolla," is a mix of feathered red onions, lime juice, salt, pepper, oil and ají strips, and it's a fabulous accompaniment to a Chicharrón sandwich (pictured above.)