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Peruvian Cuisine

Old Method, Better Taste

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Samantha Burtch, Writer

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The Inca Empire at the time of the Spanish conquest was a large and complex civilization extended into modern day Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. This region was called Tahuantinsuyo, or the “land of four regions.”

After the downfall of the Inca’s, due to the Spanish, the Native people had a rich variety of native foods, recipes, and techniques when the colonizing Spanish arrived. Peru is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and a large amount of important native foods were consumed throughout the country. The middle class, called the Mestizo’s, which were descendants of the Spanish, mixed with the Peruvians, and created Mestizo Cuisine, which later after new ingredients and techniques, created the Peruvian Cuisine itself.

The variety of peppers, hot and sweet, are an essential ingredient in many Peruvian recipes. Peanuts and many tomato and bean cuisines were also cultivated and widely consumed. In addition to these universal ingredients, local cuisines where, and still are, highly dependent upon the geographic area and climate of each region.
Peruvian culture is a beautiful mix of Hispanic and native traditions. The Quechua and the Aymara are the two main native cultures of Peru, both of which speak their native languages.
Peruvian cuisine goes off of local practices and ingredients. Many influences came from the native immigrants from Europe, Asia and West Africa. Without the familiar ingredients from their own home countries, immigrants changed their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru. The four traditional staples of this cuisine are corn, potatoes, Amaranthaceae (things like herbs and low shrubs) and legumes. Staples brought by the Spanish include rice, wheat and meats. Many traditional foods such as kiwicha, chili peppers, quinoa, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent years, making a ongoing grow of interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary style.

The top eight favorite meals of Peruvian Cuisine are said to be Cebiche, Anticuchos, Quinua, Sanguche De Chicharron, Cuy Chactado, Causa Rellena Con Pollo, Picarones, and Suspiro De Limena.
The Cebiche is marinade fresh seafood such as sand smelt, sea bass, tuna, octopus, sole, black clams or sea urchins in lime juice before turning up the heat by adding limo or rocoto chillies. They also add slivers of red onion, sweet potato, cancha crunchy corn and cilantro balance out this heavenly, fresh dish. Anticuchos is beef heart seasoned with a garlic, cumin, panca chili and vinegar adobo, then slapped on a brazier like a shish kabob, most of the time served with potatoes and corn on the cob. Quinua, a food staple that’s formed part of Peru’s diet, is a grain crop also considered beneficial by the United Nations as well.
Sanguche De Chicharron each has its own secret method of preparation, starting with the meat, then it’s usually topped with homemade salsa criolla, a combination of Peru’s lime juice, yellow chilies, red onions, white vinegar and cilantro. Cuy Chactado, deep fried whole Guinea Pig, is a popular way of serving this rodent, which tastes similar to rabbit. You can eat it with your hands, much like eating a chicken drumstick. Causa Rellena Con Pollo is traditionally made by mashing yellow potatoes with chili and is rather like a sandwich where potato substitutes bread; they are filled with chicken or tuna salad and topped with mayonnaise. Picarones are made from sweet potatoes and a large green squash called zapallo macre; they are also spiced with aniseed and cinnamon, then drizzled with fig, passion fruit or sugar cane syrup. Suspiro De Limena is made from manjar blanco caramel,then draped with port-infused meringue and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Its name translates as “the lady from Lima’s sigh”.

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