Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Geography And Cuisine: The Three Regions of Peru

Peru has three very specific geographic regions.

This map does a good job showing those three geographic features : costa, the coastal desert, sierra, the Andes mountains, and selva, the Amazon rain forest.

(Look! The text is even color-coded to match the map! Pretty nifty, yeah?)

This very distinct geography has played a significant role in the development of Peruvian cuisine. The varied landscapes within Peru provide for the availability of a wide variety of ingredients as well as a diversity of cooking styles.

Understanding the geography of Peru is the first step in understanding the cuisine of Peru.

These are the three regions of Peru:

The 1900 mile/3000 kilometer long coastline of Peru is an arid desert facing an ocean teeming with sea life. Fertile watersheds are carved out along the desert floor by rivers that descend from the Andes mountains as they head westwards towards the Pacific.

Also 1900 miles/3000 kilometers long, running parallel to the coast, the Andes mountains are the spine of the country. The Andes separate the coastal desert on the west from the Amazon rainforest on the east. The Andes contain numerous microclimates suited for varied types of agriculture as they ascend from the coastal desert floor, rise upwards as high as 22,000 feet/6700 meters, and then descend along their eastern flank into the lush Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest of Peru is a region crisscrossed with rivers flowing eastward down the Andes mountains, through lush terrain, converging with other rivers, all flowing eastward to join the mighty Amazon on its journey to the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the rainforest is still isolated and unexplored. In fact,the main Peruvian city in the Amazon, Iquitos, to this day can only be reached by plane or boat, not by road.

In later posts, I will discuss each of the three regions in depth. And how each region has contributed to Peruvian cuisine as a whole.

For now, the most important thing to remember is that in Peru, there are three regions: costa, sierra, y selva, the coast, the Andes, and the rainforest.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

No comments: