A Latin American Gem in Cuisine: Discovering Peruvian Food
(Feature Photo: Peruvian Paella/Credit: Ron Dollete/Flickr Creative Commons)
By: Isabel Byfield
I have always been curious about Peruvian food, but never had the opportunity to try it. I eat pretty much anything and love all food, but I have to confess that the wealth of seafood present in Peruvian food deters me from trying it. But today, my opinion has changed.
During my last vacation, I tried Peruvian food for the first time. I’m now obsessed with this cuisine – not only because of the fascinating history behind of Peruvian food, but the richness of color, flavor and texture that every dish offers.
Peruvian food has been internationally recognized during the last decade, and it’s currently seeking UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage approval; a recognition that has already been granted to Mexico’s cuisine. Japanese immigration to Peru during the past century played a key role in Peruvian cuisine. Many of their cooking techniques, such as nikkei marinated ceviches, display that Japanese influence.
During my Peruvian food discovery, I started with some basics – as well as some things that I have tried before like ceviche, but cooked with the Peruvian technique. It was definitely a safe place to start. I love the idea of marinating the fish in soy sauce in additional to the traditional lemon juice in which most ceviches are cooked. It adds a lot of texture and sweetness to the dish, which I loved.
To my surprise, Peruvian food also offers lots of non seafood dishes. I have to admit I had a misconception here. One of the dishes that I tried and loved the most was Chaufa, which is a Peruvian fried rice and can be made with seafood, chicken, meat or just veggies. It’s delightful! It reminded me of the fried rice you can get at a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant; but the aromas and spices of Chaufa, quickly remind you that you are eating Latin food.
Up to this point, I had a great experience with Peruvian food – but I have to say that it was dessert that made me fall in love. The Suspiro Limeño, which translates “limeno sigh” (Lima is Peru’s capital city), was the most decadent, yet simple dessert I have ever had. It consists of a cream base made with dulce de leche, then topped with a classic meringue cream and garnished with fruit. It was a rich, silky, well balance treat that I am certainly eager to try again.
I’m happy to come back from this trip where I discovered the riches of Peruvian food, looking forward to go back to Phoenix and explore the few Peruvian restaurants in town and discover more dishes to fall in love with.