Peruvian cuisine features multi-cultural influences

Peru: The Cookbook

Acclaimed chef Gastón Acurio was born in Lima, Peru. He has created an international empire, exporting Peruvian cuisine around the world. Acurio owns more than 44 international restaurants, one of which was recently ranked as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. He is now sharing his life’s passion through a new book, Peru: The Cookbook. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy. In addition to the giveaway, Phaidon is offering 40% off the book as part of its special offer to EYB Members – but hurry, the promotion ends June 30.) As an added bonus, you can watch two different videos about the book: a flipbook that lets you peek inside the pages (available on Acurio’s author page), and a short discussion of the book by the chef himself. Acurio graciously offered an excerpt from the introduction of Peru to share with EYB Members:

My childhood dream was always to be a cook. At the age of nine, I would get on my bicycle and ride to the supermarket  to buy ingredients to prepare at home. After all, no one liked to cook in my family. My father was a very important politician  at the time and was always very busy with his noble pursuits. My mother had enough to worry about raising my sisters and me, so cooking was never one of her passions, and my four older sisters were also not enamored of cooking. Perhaps this is why, in my house, cooking and eating were never among our favorite pastimes…

The years passed and I was finally able to turn my dream into a reality. I became a cook. It wasn’t easy. After all, in those days, a politician like my father did not necessarily understand why his son wanted to devote himself to cooking. But times were different then and cooks were not cast in the wonderful roles they play today. We never imagined then that a cook would become a messenger of peace and solidarity among people, a spokesperson for educational, nutritional, and environmental issues, and, above all, a bridge to happiness  for many people in the country, at sea, and in cities.

In those days we wanted to be cooks because we loved to cook or because we fell into the profession by accident, and our greatest dream was to own a beautiful restaurant some day. For example, we never imagined that we would be able to share, through a book, a gastronomic culture as wonderful as that of Peru with all who – anywhere in this connected world – are eager and curious to discover new flavors, new recipes, and new feelings.

We, the chefs of Peru, are precisely that today: messengers. With honor and humility we are the ambassadors of our cuisine in the world, which is why we feel privileged and grateful to be able to share the treasures of Peruvian cuisine with our sister nations. We are convinced that our cuisine is the fruit of a long, tolerant relationship among people and a treasure trove of ingredients that is the result of centuries  of dialogue between our ancestors and nature.

And Peruvian cuisine is just that; it is the outcome of centuries of arduous work by our farmers in harmony with nature. Peru has more than eighty different climates, which have enabled us to domesticate an enormous variety of products that today are enjoyed by the entire world: potatoes, chile peppers, beans, cacao, peanuts, pumpkins, avocados, tomatoes, quinoa, and much more.

It is also the cuisine of a country to which different peoples, immigrants from Japan, China, Africa, Spain, Italy, and the Arab world, migrated over the last 500 years, making their own contributions. All brought with them their nostalgia, customs, and products, which were beautifully assimilated into an example of unique tolerance. The result is a Peruvian cuisine that infuses a little of each of those peoples into each bite, transforming it into something new, something Peruvian. The result of this fusion was the appearance of new words, recipes, and flavors unique to Peru, which is how ceviches (marinated seafood dishes) and tiraditos (thinly sliced raw fish dishes) gave life to the world of the raw and refreshing that is found in the sea and the Andes of Peru. This is also how our regional cuisines developed; that of the north with products from ancient cultures, that of the south with flavors influenced by European and Andean customs, and the cuisine of the Amazon region, a treasure trove of exoticism still waiting  to be discovered.

This is also how the meeting of two peoples gave birth to new cuisines. Nikkei cuisine is the melding of Japan and Peru, while chifa cuisine links Peru with China, and Creole cuisine brings Africa and Europe to Peru. Then you have Italian- Peruvian cuisine, with its taverns scattered across Lima, where you find dishes that look Italian but taste Peruvian.

This is Peruvian cuisine, which we invite you to discover in this book. We hope that through its pages, you will draw some of the feelings and flavors of Peru into your heart.

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  • Bechtel  on  June 22, 2015

    I spent time in Peru many years ago and found the interactions of Asian and African cuisines with the Peruvian fascinating and delicious. I'm delighted now to see these beautiful new cuisines being appreciated and enjoyed around the world. I can't wait to get the cookbook.

  • Serenne  on  June 29, 2015

    Chifa sounds as though it is something I would definitely enjoy!!

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