Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Inca Kola: The Curious Peruvian Cola, Or The Story Of The Little Cola That Could

Photo: Lall

What is that strange yellow beverage everyone is drinking?

It's the first question a Peruvian food newbie asks when confronted with Peru's ubiquitous soda: Inca Kola.

It's a drink people either love or hate, but personal preferences aside, it has an interesting history in the annals of the global carbonated beverage world. It really is the tale of the little cola that could.

What many may not know is that the extremely sweet (some say the taste is similar to bubble gum or pineapple) and brightly yellow soda (some say it looks like, well, I'll let you figure that one out) is one of just a handful of locally produced colas in the world that was never able to be beaten by the world's number one soft drink: Coca-Cola.

Despite years of trying to dominate the Peruvian market, Coca-Cola finally gave up and decided it had to buy a share of Inca Kola because it simply couldn't outsell it.

The Lindleys in the early years.
Photo: Inca Kola

It was back in 1910, when a young English couple arrived by boat in the port of Callao to start a new life in Peru. Settling in Rimac, one of the most historic districts of Lima, José Robinson Lindley and his wife Martha opened a small shop where they sold homemade carbonated beverages.

Retro Inca Kola
Photo: Inca Kola

In 1935, Lima was celebrating 400 years since its founding, and the Lindleys decided to produce a unique drink to commemorate the event and their new homeland.

José Lindley had learned of a concoction based on hierba Luísa, lemon verbena, and began experimenting with different mixtures, fussing with the ingredients and the levels of carbonation until finding just the right formula. Thus was born, Inca Kola, a fruity soda that was launched with this catchy slogan:

Inca Kola, sólo hay una y no se parece a ninguna.
Inca Kola, there is only one, unlike any other.

Isaac Lindley
Photo: Inca Kola

By 1945, Isaac Lindley, José and Martha's son, improved the technology and expanded Inca Kola's reach in the Peruvian market. Within a few short years, Inca Kola was the leading bottled beverage sold in Peru, in part because it appealed to the Peruvian sense of national identity. After all, how many sodas are named after the Incas?

Photo: Matito

For years, Coca-Cola and its arch-rival Pepsi tried to dominate the Peruvian market, but despite their vast resources, they were never able to overtake Inca Kola as the preferred soft drink of the Peruvian public.

Inca Kola cleverly marketed itself as the nationalistic soft drink option, and Peruvians drank it by the gallons. Knowing the Peruvian market, Inca Kola targeted small mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, offering incentives and marketing assistence. Partly due to national pride, partly due to its sweet flavor, and partly due to its cost (less than its rivals) Inca Kola became the leader of the Peruvian soft drink industry. One of its key marketing strategies was to convince Peruvians that Inca Kola was a much better complement to Peruvian food than either Coke or Pepsi.

Finally, in 1999, Coca-Cola and the Corporación José R. Lindley entered in a strategic alliance whereby the multinational purchased 50% of the company for a rumored $300 million.

Inca Kola bottling plant.
Photo: Inca Kola

From its small, almost artisanal origins in Rimac, Inca Kola now has the largest soft drink bottling plants in Peru. Wherever you go in Peru, from coastal beach towns, to Andean villages thousands of feet above sea level, to the hot steamy jungle towns, Inca Kola is still the preferred soda of Peruvians.

Inca Kola and its current slogan:
El Sabor del Perú, The Flavor of Peru.

Photo: _e.t

Peruvians love their Inca Kola. There is a sense of pride that a soda in a small, poor country was not able to be overtaken by the most important beverage company in the world. Fast-food restaurants like the Peruvian company Bembo's switched from Coke to Inca Kola, and even McDonald's had to come to a unique agreement with Coca-Cola to allow both beverages to be sold in its restaurants, something unheard of in the fast-food restaurant industry. Inca Kola was like the persistent lover that had come into the marriage between McDonald's and Coca-Cola. In Peru, Big Macs are eaten with Inca Kola, not Coke.

US Inca Kola has its own slogan:
The Golden Cola

Photo: Fresh Electrons

What has really surprised me is that in the past few years, Inca Kola is now available in many Latino-oriented supermarkets here in Los Angeles. Any Peruvian restaurant in the United States worth its salt sells Inca Kola. And, Inca Kola is now bottled at a Coca-Cola plant in New York state. This is due to the deal the Lindleys made with Coca-Cola.

Haute Inca Kola.
Photo: Inca Kola

Inca Kola has a mystique in Peru and I'm sure dissertations have been written about it. When the partnership between the two companies was clinched in 1999, the Lindleys came out winners. Not only had they earned an incredible sum of money, they were also awarded bottling rights at their plants for all Coca-Cola products sold in Peru, and Coca-Cola agreed to use its formidable marketing muscle to expand Inca Kola into markets outside of Peru.

For those who read Spanish, there is a great excerpt of an article
in the Peruvian magazine Etiqueta Negra by Marco Avilés and Daniel Titinger (who allowed me to translate, The Ceviche Route in an earlier Peru Food post).

They tell story of M. Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola's CEO who arrived in Lima in 1999 to work out the final details in the new joint venture. As part of the ceremonies, Ivester had to drink a glass of Inca Kola at a press conference which became a Peruvian media frenzy. It was the symbolic defeat of Coca-Cola in Peru. Quite simply, Coke was not able to convince the Peruvian public that it was a better soft drink. The next day's newspapers all had photos of Iverson splashed on their front pages with the caption: Coca-Cola's President Toasts with Inca Kola. In the cola wars, the Third World David had beaten the First World Goliath.

Rumor has it that Iverson hated the taste of Inca Kola, calling it too sweet, and some have less than kindly attributed this statement to him: Looks like pee, tastes like bubble gum.

That may be the case, but 28 million Peruvians can't be wrong.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vegan Peruvian by Bryanna Clark Grogan

Vegan Ceviche.

Bryanna Clark Grogan is a vegan food writer whose father was born in Peru. She lives in British Columbia and has adapted several traditional Peruvian dishes into vegan recipes. She calls it "veganizing" them. Bryanna's blog Vegan Feast Kitchen is a good resource for anyone interested in the vegan or vegetarian option.

Vegan alfajores con dulce de leche.

Her post about her Peruvian family has a great photo of her Peruvian aunts doing what Peruvians love to do most, gather as a family and share a meal. She also posts some photos of her 'veganized' Peruvian dishes, and gives a good overview of Peruvian cuisine in general.

Vegan anticuchos.

Bryanna also discusses different types of chile peppers and substitution items available outside Peru. She even has a recipe for vegan
anticuchos. Who would have thought?

Here is a recipe from Bryanna's vegan Peruvian kitchen:
quinoa salad.

Bryanna's Ensalada de Quinoa


2 c. dry quinoa
4 c. boiling water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. lime juice
2 pickled jalapenos, chopped
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Oil Substitute (see below)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 large tomato, cubed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 c. fresh parsley, minced
1/3 c. fresh basil, minced
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
2 heads lettuce, cleaned and shredded


Tofu Feta
Black Kalamata olives
Chunks of cooked corn on the cob
Chunks of avocado in lemon juice
Chunks of cooked sweet potato


Rinse the quinoa under cold running water until the water runs clear. Toast the quinoa in a dry pan until slightly golden.

Add quinoa to 4 c. boiling water in a small saucepan with a ¼ tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down and cook, covered for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Let stand off the heat for 10 minutes.

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and chill.

Whisk together the lime juice, the chiles, olive oil, oil replacer and salt to taste and set aside.

Combine the quinoa, cucumbers, tomato, green onions, parsley, and basil and mix gently. Pour the lime dressing over the top and toss again. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

To serve the salad, place a mound of shredded lettuce on 6 or 8 individual plates and garnish with any or all of the suggested garnishes.

Bryanna's Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings

I often use the broth from cooking chickpeas (garbanzo beans) instead of this, because it thickens naturally when chilled.

Use this simple mixture in place the oil in salad dressing recipes. Unlike plain juice or water, it will help the dressing stick to the greens. This recipe is easily multiplied.

1 cup water
1 tablespoon low-sodium vegetarian broth powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Whisk the broth powder and starch into the cold water in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear. Use immediately in a salad dressing, or store in a covered jar and refrigerate.

Recipe and photos by Bryanna Clark Grogan at Vegan Feast Kitchen.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Video: Anthony Bourdain in Peru

There's been a buzz on some blogs about chef, writer, and culinary explorer Anthony Bourdain's video of his No Reservations visit to Peru (which aired on the Travel Channel). Gastón Acurio was one of his hosts.

I first read about it on La Picantitos, then on El Amor Por La Cocina, and finally Cooking Diva. When I found another video on Peruvian food at Slashfood, I decided to have a look around You Tube's search options.

Sure enough, Anthony Bourdain's video was uploaded by billycolonia in five installments. And, here it is.

Part 1, Duration 08:58

Part 2, Duration 09:16

Part 3, Duration:08:01

Part 4, Duration: 09:02

Part 5, Duration: 07:47

If you have any trouble with the videos on this page, do a search for bourdain and peru on You Tube.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Spring, Primavera: Autumn, Otoño

Photo: Benjamin Gimmel on Wikipedia Francais.

En el Sur llegó la primavera, acá en el Norte el otoño.
Spring arrived in the South; here in the North, autumn.

Photo: Jim on Wikipedia.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Friday, September 22, 2006

Food Festival in Lima's Museo de la Nación

Before I started this blog, I knew food and tourism festivals existed, but I never knew how many there were.

This weekend if you're in Lima, you may want to visit the Museo de la Nación, Peru's National Museum, site of the very first Feria de Turismo, Gastronomía y Entretenimiento, Tourism, Gastronomy, and Entertainment Fair, organized by the Camara de Comercio de Lima, Lima's Chamber of Commerce.

You can download an invitation.
Over 100 stands representing cooking schools, restaurants, cafes, bars, and the wine, liquor, and tourism industries will be present. The fair concludes Sunday, September 25.

By they way, the Museo de la Nación provides an excellent overview of Peru's ancient cultures and is worth a visit in its own right.

Museo de la Nación
Avenida Javier Prado Este 2465, San Borja
Phone: 476-9933
Open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Sacha Inchi: Oil from the Amazon Takes Gold in Paris

Photo: Institute of Peruvian Amazon Research,
Instituto de Investigación de la Amazoní­a Peruana.

I must be craving to be somewhere very far away. Perhaps I need a vacation? For now, here's a final installment related to the Peruvian Amazon, about a unique plant that produces a flavorful and very healthy oil.

Sacha inchi
, an Amazonian plant, has been discovered to be the richest vegetable source of the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 that protect the heart and lower cholesterol.

The plant is depicted on pottery found buried in Inca and pre-Inca tombs, so people in the region must have known about sacha inchi for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Sacha inchi contains 48% Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (olive or soy oil only contain 8%). Also, because of its makeup, it is the most easily digestible vegetable oil.

The oil isn't only incredibly healthy, it must also taste good since it just won a Gold Medal. When it will show up at my local supermarket?

Bottled under the the Inca Inchi label, this oil received a Gold Medal at the World Edible Oil Fair, part of the Salón World Ethnic & Specialty Food Show, held this past June in Paris.

Sacha inchi produces a fruit that, to me, looks like a pod. After the pods are dried, the seeds are extracted and pressed to make the oil.

I like this close up of sacha inchi.

This is the pod which is harvested from the plant.

Once the pod is dried, the hard inner body is revealed. Inside are the
sacha inchi seeds.

The seeds are pressed to make the oil.

Map: Institute of Peruvian Amazon Research,
Instituto de Investigación de la Amazoní­a Peruana.

Almost two-thirds of Peru consists of tropical lowlands (green in the map above), the western edge of the immense Amazon basin, yet barely 12% of the population live there. Sacha inchi is one of the crops the Peruvian government's Pro Amazonía program is trying to develop in the region. Inca Ichi oil is produced by Agroindustrias Amazónicas.

Sources: Radio Programas del Perú and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos from Pro Amazonía.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Photo: Juanes, The Quintessential Amazonian Food

A New York City painter I know asked me recently, "So, what's Amazonian food like?"

I had to admit the only time I tried Amazonian food was when I was trying to impress an Amazonian friend of mine in Lima and I decided to find the best Amazonian restaurant in town.

Of course, I can't remember the name.

The place was in Lince, a district of Lima, not too far from the Lince's Mercado Central, Central Market.

There aren't that many restaurants that serve the cuisine of the Amazon in Lima, but among the best known are Bar Restaurant Maquisapa and El Bijao. Both are in Lince.

I don't know if it was one of those two where I went that day, but I do recall eating juanes, pictured above, which are similar to a tamal, except made with rice, spices, a stuffing, and wrapped in the the leaf of the bijao, or Heliconia bihai, an Amazonian plant often seen in florist shops because of its extravagant flowers. The stuffing can be fish, chicken, or even simply yuca. There are some good pictures of Heliconia bihai, sometimes known in English as lobster claw, at this link. If bijao leaves aren't available, some people use banana leaves.

Amazonians eat a lot of fish, and they sure do love theiryuca. They also enjoy their traditional liquors, like siete raíces, a concoction made from the essence of seven different plants.

If you read Spanish, there is a recipe for juanes at Yanuq. Otherwise you'll have to wait for me to translate or locate a recipe in English.

As for me, I think, "Who cares about the food?"

Above all, Amazonians know how to have a good time.

I must be craving an Amazonian fix.

Bar Restaurant Maquisapa
Avenida Petit Thouars 1789
Lince, Lima
Phone: 265-8033

El Bijao
Avenida Ignacio Merino 2051
Lince, Lima
Phone: 265-3012


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

London: Amazonian Food Festival

Here's something interesting I came across; if you're in London this week, you may want to check it out.

(I'm always learning something new with this blog.)

This week, a north London restaurant is holding its
Festival Gastronómica de la Amazonía Latinoamericana, a Latin American Amazonian Food Festival.

This also happens to be the same week they celebrate Semana Turística de Iquitos, Tourist Week in Iquitos.

If you're in London instead of the Peruvian Amazon, you should head to Islington if you're craving that Amazonian feel.

Amazonians in Islington?

Hey, it should be a good party at El Aguajal Restaurant this coming September 22 to 25.

Here's a bit of a review about
El Aguajal from London Eating

"(The) restaurant is in a good location, the food is brilliant and there are a variety of traditional Peruvian drinks, especially the well known Peruvian pisco sour. The dishes are well presented and made with attention to detail. All this is accompanied by music that make you feet eager to dance."

Sounds like a pretty good recommendation.

Thanks to Arte Culinario Perú, a blog by César Silver Galán, from Piura in northern Peru, for this info.

Photo: El Aguajal by Citykey.

El Aguajal

54 Balls Pond Road, Islington, London
Phone: 44 (0) 20 7923 4883

El Aguajal website


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Can you eat Peruvian food without bread?

When I lived with my grandparents in Peru, buying bread was a daily ritual.

Twice a day, my grandfather would get his cloth bread bag from a drawer in the kitchen cabinet and head to the local bakery, just a block away.

The first time he would go was early in the morning, sometimes before I even woke up. Breakfast was always served with piping hot pan francés. On that same trip to the bakery, he would buy enough bread so we could have some at lunch as well.

Then in the afternoon, just before lonche, the Peruvian afternoon tea inspired by English influence during the late 1800s, he would go back to the bakery to get more freshly baked bread. A proper lonche requires fresh bread.

I used to accompany my grandfather to buy the bread for lonche, and in the recesses of my memory can still conjure the wonderful smell that filled the street as we approached our neighborhood bakery.

Back home, biting into a crisp piece of french-roll style bread as I ate lunch, or eating it as a sandwich stuffed with fresh farmer's cheese and olives at lonche, or dipping it buttered into café con leche, or breaking it up into little pieces to add as a topping to my grandmother's soup, bread was always present at mealtimes.

I consider bread such a part of Peruvian eating habits I was surprised to discover that currently, Peru has one of the lowest rates of bread consumpution in the wheat-producing world.

I don't know what happened.

One of the goals of FEPAN 2006: III Ferí­a Especializada de Panadería, Pastelerí­a y Chocolate, or FEPAN 2006: III Bakery, Pastry, and Chocolate Specialized Fair, is to promote bread and baked goods in Peru.
Organizers also want to motive producers to create new and different bakery products that will appeal to the Peruvian public.

There are some very good breads in Peru; I think during Peru's turbulent history between the time I lived there and the present, the quality of bread suffered. This probably has something to do with people now eating less bread than before. Fortunately, in my family bread must be on the table to have served a complete Peruvian meal. I can't conceive otherwise.

FEPAN 2006 takes place September 19 to 23 at the campus of SENATI, Servicio Nacional en Adiestramiento de Trabajo Industrial, the National Industrial Training Service.

While the fair is geared to the bakery industry, the general public is also welcome provided they obtain invites from their local bakery good providers.

All the key players in the Peruvian baking industry will be there --producers, suppliers, wholesalers, machinery specialists and technicians. There will also be speakers,
workshops, demonstrations, and two national baking contests. Breads, pastries, and chocolate will be available to sample.

During FEPAN 2006, the Peruvian national finals for the best bread and fine pastry in the country will be held as part of the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie Louis Lesaffre, the Louis Lesaffre World Cup of Bakery, which will have its finals in Paris during the Spring of 2007. The Peruvian national winners will represent Peru in the South American Semi-Finals in Buenos Aires.

Two other contests, organized solely as part of FEPAN 2006, will be held, one for Novo Andino pastry (pastry using only products of Peruvian origin) and one for artisan chocolate.

I wish I could be in Lima next week to attend FEPAN 2006, and once again smell those wonderful aromas of freshly-baked bread, and recall the little boy who would hold his grandfather's hand as they headed to their local bakery in the afternoons.

El Comercio and La República

FEPAN 2006
September 19 to 23
Panamericana Norte, kilometer 15, Independencia.

Phone: 533-4499
E-mail: fepan@senati.edu.pe

Website for FEPAN 2006

Website for the Coupe Mundiale Louis Lesaffre de la Boulangerie


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chicago Peruvian

Carol is a Korean American blogger married to a Peruvian and living in Chicago. Her blog, bokumbop, is named after a popular Korean fried rice dish. I know this because I live near Los Angeles' Koreatown, and I've had many an opportunity to sample authentic Korean food. Koreans and Peruvians, we both love our food.

Recently, we've been exchanging e-mails about food and culture. I thought I'd post some of her thoughts, since they echo mine so well.

Additionally, she tells us about the Peruvian restaurant scene in Chi-Town.

Here's Carol's perspective:

There are a lot of surprising synergies between Korean and Peruvian food and, most of time, if you like one, you'll like the other. I believe that food is such an important form of expression in both cultures, if you don't "get it," or think it's weird, you probably will have a hard time fitting in, even more than not speaking the language. In a way, rejecting the food is kind of like ... rejecting the whole culture, the people, the way of life.

Okay, here is the scoop on two Peruvian restaurants in Chicago--

Rinconcito Sudamericano is the restaurant that everybody knows here.

It's been here the longest (a lot of Peruvian restaurants pop up, but then go out of business for one reason or another). Obviously, Chicago suffers from not having an ocean nearby, but you can still get a good sudado or arroz con mariscos here ...

I usually get the ají de gallina, and I see a lot of homesick Peruvians ordering tallarín, or arroz con pato, or bistec and papa a la diabla. They also do a beautiful stuffed shrimp appetizer and chicken with a peanut sauce, yum.

Here's part of review by Patrick Corcoran at Centerstage Chicago.

"If this Peruvian eatery is an accurate reflection on the rest of the nation, I am packing my bags for Lima pronto. This Bucktown eatery is formal, but not too fancy. The decorative placemats and matching chairs, the tie-wearing staff and immaculate table setting suggest a propriety belied by the throng of young children roughhousing among the servers.

The menu's design may be simple, but page upon page of enticing recipes make the decision of what to order exceedingly complex."

Photos: AllyUnion at Wikipedia.

My husband and I also went to Taste of Peru a lot when we were city dwellers. Again, really good, homestyle cooking. And, a really nice owner who used to be a police officer, and does a lot for the Rogers Park community where the restaurant is located. It's BYOB, which I really like. You'll see a lot of groups of older Peruvians chilling out, having some wine, waiting for their meals - from what I remember service is extreeeeeeemely slooooooooowwwww, but as long as you know this going in, and just relax and enjoy the conversation and music, it's all good.

It's funny to watch people (non-Peruvian) who have never been there before get all bent out of shape, or try to order things with substitutions and what-not - you just gotta' go with the flow.

There is a Thai restaurant in Wrigleyville that is only open late-night, and the sign on the wall says - "This Is Not Burger King - You Will Not Have It Your Way".

I think some things, like Peruvian food, are best as is.

So, if you ever find yourself in Chicago, you will not starve! I found a new restaurant that opened up in the 'burbs, that I hope to try out one of these days, but it's hard to dine out with a 10-month old!

Kamsahamnida Carol!

Rinconcito Sudamericano
1954 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago
Phone: (773) 489-3126

A Taste of Peru
6545 N Clark Street, Chicago
Phone: (773) 381-4540
Website: Taste of Peru


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Restaurant: Hanzo Japanese Cuisine in Surco

Many may be surprised by the popularity of Japanese cuisine in Peru, particularly in Lima, but this is in keeping with the way in which Peruvian culinary customs embrace new trends and influences and fuse them into something uniquely Peruvian. In fact, like Chinese and Italian, Japanese is one of the great late 19th and early 20th century migrations to Peru, and its cuisine has had great appeal, particularly in the past few years.

Of course, it's hard to forget that Peru was the only country to ever elect a President of Japanese descent, Alberto Fujimori.

Catherine Contreras, writing in the September 6 edition of El Comercio, reports on
Hanzo Japanese Cuisine, the latest contribution to Nikkei and Japanese cuisine in Lima.

Hajime Kasuga offers us a traditional Japanese meal in Lima.
Photo: Miguel Bellido in El Comercio

The kitchen is headed by the young sensei chef, Hajime Kasuga, whose primary concern, according to Contreras, is quality and service. Kasuga approaches his restaraunt inspired by his samurai heros: like them, his is also a life dedicated to service. This is why he chose to call his new venture, Hanzo, which refers to Hattori Hanzo, the most famous ninja in history.

Contreras details Kasuga's experience: he is a graduate of the Inat, now the
Escuela Superior de Administración Hotelera y Turismo, the National Hotel Administration and Tourism School. As a young chef, he received a scholarship to study the culinary arts in Japan. In addition, he is a disciple of César Matsufuji, founder of the renowned restaurant, Matsuei, considered the finest sushi bar in Lima.

Kasuga opened his restaurant with little fanfare to an excellent reception from the dining public.

He has assembled a creative team, both in the kitchen and in the dining room. Hanzo endeavors to prepare traditional Japanese cuisine using Peruvian ingredients. The creativity of the chefs, the quality of the products, and the varied flavors, make this a unique dining experience, according to Contreras.

Hanzo Japanese Cuisine
Prolongación Primavera 1494, corner of La Encalada


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Monday, September 11, 2006

Peru to Triple Citrus Exports to US

Peru's citrus growers look to increase three-fold exports of their product to US markets in 2007.

The Asociación de Productores de Cítricos, the Citrus Growers Association, known as Procitrus, is expecting to triple citrus exports to the US in 2007. Their projection for 2007 is for a total of 6000 metric tons of citrus exports from Peru to the US.

This past June, the US Department of Agriculture finally lifted restrictions on Peruvian citrus products entering the US, clearing the way for an expansion in export production. Producers in Peru, while happy with the news, had hoped the decision would have been made earlier in the year. They blame the delay in the lifting of the restrictions for not meeting their 2006 projected export total of 2000 metric tons. As it stands, by year's end, Peru projects 1800 metric tons of citrus exports to the US.

Peruvian citrus includes grapefruit, key limes, tangerines, oranges, and tangelo.

Source: Perú 21


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

In Memoriam

Photo: Aaron Logan at Wikipedia España.

Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista
Windows on the World Restaurant
Peruvian, 24, New York, NY

Kenneth P. Lira
Field Service Technician, Genuity
Peruvian, 28, Paterson, NJ

Robert Gabriel Martinez
Security Officer, Summit Security Services
Peruvian, 24, New York, NY

Luis Clodoaldo Revilla Mier

Computer Designer, Washington Group International
Peruvian, 54, New York, NY

Julio Fernandez Ramirez
Painter, One Source Hudson Shatz
Peruvian, 51, New York, NY


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Peruvian Chefs Delight Sao Paulo

Teresa Izquierdo and Eduardo Castañón in Sao Paulo.
Photo: Radio Programas del Perú

The recent Peruvian Food Festival, held at the Sao Paulo Intercontinental Hotel from August 25 to September 2, delighted paulistas, as the residents of Sao Paulo are called.

Two key Peruvian chefs traveled from Lima to Brazil in order to oversee the Festival. Eduardo Castañón, chef at two of Lima's most famous restaurants La Rosa Naútica and Casa Hacienda Moreyra, along with Teresa Izquierdo, from El Rincón Que No Conoces.

In 2005, 43 thousand Brazilians came to Peru as tourists, close to half from the greater Sao Paulo region. This annual festival is part of an effort to promote Peruvian cuisine in the Brazilian economic capital.

The two chefs showcased both traditional as well as cutting-edge Peruvian cuisine, cooking at the Tarsila restaurant located in the Intercontinental. They were selected as the ambassadors of Peruvian cuisine to Brazil by the Peruvian Comission for the Promotion of Peru, Prom Perú, organizers of the event.

Intercontinental Executive Chef Marcelo Pinheiro, hosted the opening event, which also featured criolla music, pisco sours, and traditional dances.

The buffet menu included anticuchos de pez espada(swordfish anticuchos), conchas a la parmesana (Parmesan clams), and mejillones a la chalaca (Callao style mussels). The main courses included soltero arequipeño, ceviche de lenguado, ceviche mixto al coco(mixed ceviche in coconut milk), tiradito de lenguado amarillocarpaccio de pulpo al pimentón, (octopus paprika carpaccio), arroz con mariscos (seasoned rice with shellfish), mero a la chorrillana, ají de gallina, and a pastel de yuca, (yuca pastry). Classic Peruvian desserts were on offer such as mazamorra moradasuspiro de lúcuma, picarones, and crema volteada de quinua.

Teresa Izquierdo with Brazilian chef, Benedita Ricardo de Oliveira, Bené.
Photo: Radio Programas del Perú

One special moment during the Festival was when Teresa Izquierdo met Brazilian chef, Benedita Ricardo de Oliveira, known as Bené. Both chefs work tirelessly to promote the traditional flavors of their respective countries. Teresa Izquierdo has been cooking for 60 years, and specializes in criollo cuisine laced with African-influenced flavors. Bené, a chef for over 35 years, is one of the most important names in the Brazilian cooking world.

Radio Programas del Perú and El Comercio both commented on this Peruvian Food Festival in Sao Paulo.

And as long as we are talking about Teresa Izquierdo, back in March, she was one of 12 Peruvian culinary figures awarded the Premio Manka, Manka Award, honoring chefs, gastronomical researchers, culinary historians, and food journalists.

Teresa Izquierdo and other Peruvian culinary figures
receive Premio Manka.
Photo: El Comercio

The word manka in Quechua, the indigenous Andean language, means clay cooking pot, and thePremio Manka is in fact a clay pot (see picture above), the ancestral culinary tool used by varied Peruvian cultures over time and into the present day.

This award honors and celebrates the work of culinary professionals in Peru, as well as those dedicated to the investigation and promotion of Peruvian cuisine. The Premio Manka is awarded by the Peruvian Ministry of Education.

The awards ceremony was held at the Huaca Huallamarca, a pre-Columbian pyramid in San Isidro, and along with Teresa, the other 2006 recipients in the Masters of the Culinary Arts category were Gastón Acurio, Humberto Sato, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, and Cucho La Rosa. In the Investigators and Promoters category, the recipients were Mariela Balbi, Isabel Alvarez, Bernardo Roca Rey, Raul Vargas, Johan Leuridan, Fernando Cabieses, and Rosario Olivas.


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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Isabel Quispe Aquino: The Best Parihuela in the World

Photo: María Elena Cornejo at Mucho Gusto Perú.

This item comes to us from María Elena Cornejo, and her Mucho Gusto Perú blog, where she posts many of the articles she publishes as a restaurant critic at CARETAS, a leading Peruvian magazine.

Doña Isabel: From the Chorrillos Market to the World by María Elena Cornejo.

Isabel Quispe Aquino's life took quite a turn when it was touched by Gastón Acurio's magic wand.

An excellent cook, she has long owned a stand in the Chorrillos market, next to the fishmongers and the shellfish vendors, from whom she always obtains the freshest products available. Her marketplace stand has four high stools at an immaculate, white-tiled counter, and nearbly, two small tables, with blue tablecloths and flower vases. For the past 25 years, she has been serving the locals her seafood dishes, never once stopping, never once throwing in the towel.

Isabel Quispe Aquino knows about seafood.

At the age of 15, she began working at the Muelle de Pescadores, the Fisherman's Wharf, in Callao. Later, she married Papo López, a born fisherman who knows all the secrets that hide just beneath a fish's scales.

One fine day, Gastón Acurio, known as el curioso, the curious one, 'discovered' this marketplace hole-in-the-wall, and he included Isabel's name in one of his books, declaring she made the best parihuela, Peruvian seafood soup, in the world.


The next day, there was a a line around the block, waiting to sample Isabel's parihuela, which was immediately christened El Campeón, The Champ.

And in fact, it is a champ. At just ten soles, this succulent dish can raise the dead.

Isabel decided to rent a bigger space on the outskirts of the market, where she could have more tables, all with their distinctive blue tablecloths, and more straw-seated chairs. Every table has its own distinctive napkin dispenser, and on the wall, there was a blackboard where she noted the daily specials.

A colorful sign, decorated with a palm tree and a mermaid, declares: Cevichería Restaurante Isabel.

After I greet her, doña Isabel shows me the famous book in which she is mentioned. The pages have been carefully encased in plastic.

Over time, people kept coming and filling her second locale as well, so she opened a third one, much larger, with wooden chairs and even posters on the walls. In her third restaurant she plays salsa music, has a long counter, and displays hand-drawn art on the walls. Now, she has business cards embossed with a palm tree and a mermaid, which say: Reconocido con la parihuela en los libros de la gran cocina peruana de Gastón Acurio, Recognized by her parihuela in Gastón Acurio's books on great Peruvian cuisine.

"This last place I named Isabel y Papo," she says. She also raised the prices a bit, but explains, "I charge the regulars from the market the same as always."

In October, Isabel wants to hold a Ceviche Festival, so she can celebrate her seafood cooking. Of course, she hopes her mentor, Gastón himself, will attend and sit at the place of honor she has reserved for him.

Meanwhile, she does her homework for her classes at Universidad del Pacífico. She began taking classes, she tells us at a mile a minute, because "I was told I should learn more about gastronomy and food handling and all the other subjects I'm studying."

If you go there, and you should if you like seafood soup, it doesn't hurt to have a reservation, just in case.

All three locales are in or around the Mercado Modelo in Chorrillos.

Isabel Quispe: Three Locations
Mercado Modelo Número 1, in Chorrillos
Puesto 39
Avenida Alejandro Iglesias 649
Reservations: 234-8311.

Av. Alejandro Iglesias 633
Reservations: 260-2729

Avenida Ferrocarril 154
Reservations: 252-1225


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

Friday, September 08, 2006

One Year Later: 8 de Septiembre, Virgen de Cocharcas

I started my first blog, LAX - LIM, one year ago, on the feast day of the Virgin of Cocharcas, patroness of my maternal grandfather's ancestral village, Orcotuna, in the Mantaro Valley of Central Peru.

The name, Orcotuna, is food-related. In Quechua, the Andean language spoken in the region, orco means place and tuna means the fruit of the cactus, or prickly pear, so Orcotuna means 'the place where the prickly pears grow'.

Soon thereafter, I started up at least two or three other blogs, but it was this one you are reading, Peru Food, that has gained the widest audience. I thank all of you for your interest.

My other blogs have been left by the wayside.

I am humbled. I never expected this blog, birthed by a Peruvian-American filled with nostalgia for the flavors, sounds, and textures of Peru, to be of interest to so many.

My own passion for Peruvian food, or for the nexus between food and culture and (dare I say it?) love, comes from my grandmother's kitchen and those annual trips to Orcotuna, to celebrate this feast day.

There was much food to be had during this time of year. Orcotuna is famous for its lechón asado, roast suckling pig, roasted over traditional wood fires.

But, it was pachamanca that ruled the day, that millenial Andean cooking style, where the food is cooked deep in the ground, within the embrace of the Pachamama, the Andean Earth Mother.

In keeping with the culinary vein of this blog, my next post will be a a recipe for pachamanca, but please indulge me with this re-post of my first blog entry ever.

¡Feliz 8 de septiembre!


From LAX - LIM, September 8, 2005.

Too many good things happened to me today, and yet it wasn't until almost the end of the day that I realized the significance of this date.

Today, 8 de septiembre, is the feast day of the patroness of my grandfather's Andean village, Orcotuna, my ancestral homeland.

I suddenly realized that in Orcotuna, today would be a day of processions, ritual dancing, eating, and drinking. A small image of a white Virgin would be paraded along the dusty streets, followed by chonguinada dancers dressed in elaborate 16th century costumes.

Musicians with violins and archaic harps would parade around the plaza playing syncopated huaynos, and encouraging the throngs of visitors to dance.

Vendors set up stands around the plaza, selling food and drink (since copious ingestion of beer and chicha and aguardiente are part and parcel of Andean festivities).

Four years ago, I went to Orcotuna to witness the event for the first time since my childhood, when I was dragged religiously on a yearly basis. Although my grandfather's reality had far removed him, in consciousness and experience, from the village life, the yearly visits to Orcotuna on 8 de septiembre were his way of linking his present with his past.

It had taken me over twenty years to make that same journey, and although I had been to many parts of the world, there was something that had kept me from returning to the one place where I can say: My people come from here.

Atop a hill, overlooking the red tiled roofs of Orcotuna, is the shrine that becomes the focal point on the ocho de septiembre.

It is built around a cave where apparently the Virgin first appeared, and as I trudged up the dirt road with all the other pilgrims, revelers, and tourists, I saw myriad Indian women, dressed in their many-layered skirts, kneeling before the cave entrance.

Their offerings were white candles they held in their hands oblivious to the wax dripping slowly on their bronze-colored skin. They prayed and chanted, their long braids bobbing, their heads covered by high-brim white hats.

It was being seven years old again. It was having my grandparents still alive, holding my small hands in theirs.

And as I looked into the cave, I realized that worshippers had imbued special meaning to a unique rock outcropping right inside the cave walls.

And it all made sense. Because in animist Andean cosmology, the mountains, the glaciers, rocks, and all manifestations of Nature, possess their own spirts.

Despite 500 plus years of Spanish post-colonialism and the unique synchretic reality that has since arisen, in Orcotuna, as in many other parts of the Andean world, there is still a link to that millenial past.

Suddenly I realized that I belonged there, that despite the vicissitudes of my own life and space and time, I too had a link to that ancient past.

Although the cultural landscape I best understand is the chaotic fractured polyglot post-modern megalopolis I call home, on that 8 de septiembre in Orcotuna, I could say:

My people come from here. And I too am from here.


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

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book: The Art of Peruvian Cuisine by Tony Custer

The Art of Peruvian Cuisine is a lavish celebration of Peruvian cooking.

Author Felipe Antonio Custer, who publishes under the name Tony Custer, is the Harvard-educated CEO of Peru's Corporación Custer, as well as a member of Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. A leading Peruvian businessman, this grandson of a Swiss immigrant to Peru is also the founder of the Felipe Antonio Custer Foundation, which serves underprivileged children in Peru.

Photo of Felipe Antonio Custer from the Corporación Custer website.

How did this CEO end up authoring a book about Peruvian cuisine?

Apparently, one day a few years ago, Custer realized there was no such book available and he simply decided to write his own.

It is quite a lavish work. As other bloggers, like Kleph, have pointed out, this work has become one of the leading Peruvian cookbooks available in English, despite its steep cost. Yes, I've seen it in Lima bookshops, but the cost (about $200, last time I checked--although more affordable options can be found at major Internet booksellers) makes it one of those items you hope to receive for Christmas. The good news is that all proceeds benefit Custer's foundation, and its work on behalf of Peru's children.

Laden with 100 full-page, full-color photographs by Miguel Etchepare
, the book includes an overview of Peruvian cuisine, as well as recipes (some have complained the recipes can be complicated and require much background knowledge). Of course, for the cost (not to mention the weight) you probably don't want it to get splattered while cooking in the kitchen. At the very least, this imposing paean to Peruvian cookery will look good on anyone's coffee table.

The Felipe Antonio Custer Foundation has an excellent bilingual website where you can preview the book, and also view some of the recipes and photographs featured in this important work:

The Art of Peruvian Cooking


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Princess of Cairo Prepares Peruvian for an Amsterdam Party, or How Anyone Can Cook Peruvian

I'm not sure who the Princess of Cairo is, where she lives, or what she does for a living. And, I can't even begin to think where she learned to cook Peruvian.

Her witty, sexy, and irreverent blog Purgatory is a Cat, is a journal she hopes her mother never reads, in which she tells it like it is, as she traipses across continents, en route breaking hearts, listening to music, expanding minds, and enjoying good food.

I stumbled across a recent post about Peruvian food on her blog. It seems she was in Amsterdam, and having a going-away party (the Princess certainly travels), and she "wanted to serve tasty, inexpensive food to (her) guests, but wasn't sure what to do. The solution? Peruvian food!"

She put together quite a meal, making causa limeña, ceviche, a chicken-less arroz con pollo (yes, you read that right; she calls it arroz con pollo sin pollo), and papas a la huancaína. Her technique may not be that of Lima's top chefs, but her dishes turned out looking quite good (of course, she posted pictures) and she even includes her recipes and a brief description of each dish. Where did she learn to cook like that? I didn't know princesses knew how to cook.

I hope that if the Princess makes it to my neck of the woods, she throws me a little party, too. Her blog is quite entertaining, and proof that Peruvian food is quite easy and delicious to make.

You may have to scroll down a bit, past Christina Aguilera, to get to the post:

How to Make Peruvian Food by the Princess of Cairo


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

Excellence in Production: 2006 Peruvian National Pisco Congress, Arequipa, September 21 to 23

The V National Pisco Conference, V Congreso Nacional del Pisco, will be held in the historic Southern Peruvian city of Arequipa from September 21 to 23. Organized by the Regional Pisco Grape Growers Association, Asociación Regional de Productores de la Vid al Pisco: AREVID, the conference will take place at the Cerro Juli Convention Center, and bring together growers, producers, exporters, government, and business sectors.

The theme for this years conference is Excellence in Production, Excelencia en la cadena productiva.

While the conference is geared for those in the industry, the concurrent PiscoFeria Arequipa 2006 is an additional event that will bring out the major pisco producers in Peru, as well as vendors. There will be music, dance, culinary exhibitions, and of course, many opportunities for sampling the best piscos produced in Peru.

Arequipa is an important grape-growing region, and the nearby Victor, Majes, and Carveli valleys are home to 105 pisco producers.

This news comes to us via the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Radio Programas del Perú.

More information available in Spanish at these websites:

V National Pisco Conference

PiscoFeria Arequipa 2006


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

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Peruvian Cuisine Explosion: Associated Press

Joan Cirillo, who writes for the Associated Press, recently published the latest article on Peruvian food in the US press, Peruvian Cuisine is Exploding onto the Culinary Scene, which was picked up nationwide at the end of June.

Yesterday, the Spanish-language translation of her article (Cocina peruana amplía presencia en Estados Unidos) appeared in many US Spanish-language papers.

Cirillo interviews Doris Rodríguez de Platt, founder of Portland's acclaimed Andina Restaurant, chosen Best Restaurant of 2005 by The Oregonian. Located in the Pearl District, Andina invites diners to "experience the warmth, familiarity, and contrasts" of its Novo Andina cuisine, a movement that reinvents Peruvian traditional foods by applying sophisticated culinary techniques, says Cirillo. Rodríguez de Platt explains, "Novo Andina tries to bring color and presentation to our traditional foods."

Cirillo's article goes on to discuss the current boom in Peruvian restaurants and products in the US. Peruvian restaurants, both upscale and elegant establishments as well as small-ethnic eateries, are now present in most major cities. Peruvian food products are now more readily available than ever. Demand has grown so much, one of the leading distributors of Latino-food products in the US, Goya, is expanding its line of Peruvian food items. More importantly, as more people discover Peruvian cuisine, it is finally gaining recognition as its own unique entity, something long coming.

Cirillo explains there is concerted effort by the Comission for the Promotion of Peru, Prom Perú, to "(let) the world know Peru has this exquisite cuisine," in the words of one official. The Peruvian government is keenly aware a greater demand for Peruvian cuisine means a greater demand for Peruvian exports.

But, Cirillo asks, what makes Peruvian cuisine so distinctive?

"It owes much to the combination of its rich natural resources with the traditions of immigrant ethnic groups ... and the bounty of three clearly different regions: the coast and its desert; the Andean Mountains; and the Amazon jungle."

I couldn't agree with her more.

If you read the article carefully, you'll find this humble blog mentioned.


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

Recipe: Causa de Atun by Elena Hernandez

Elena Hernández, the Panama City-based chef and a great admirer of Peruvian cuisine, recently posted her recipe for causa de atún, tuna causa, on her Spanish-language blog, El Amor por la Cocina.

This cold potato appetizer, somewhat like a spicy and flavorful layered potato tarte, one of Peru's most typical dishes, is also one of Elena's favorites. For the first time, and adapting from Tony Custer's book, The Art of Peruvian Cooking, Elena tries her hand at
causa. Below is her easy-to-follow recipe.

Causa de atún, tuna causa.
Photo by Elena Hernández at El Amor por la Cocina.

Causa de Atún: Tuna Causa


2.2 lbs de Peruvian yellow potatoes
¼ cup of oil
¼ cup of vinegar
ají­ amarillo paste
juice of one lemon
juice of one orange
salt and white pepper

For the filling:

2 cans of tuna in oil
2 finely diced onions
1 avocado
1 cup of mayonaise
2 hard boiled eggs
lettuce leaves
8 black olives
diced parsley


1. Cook the potatoes in salted water. Peel and mash. Season with salt, white pepper, lemon juice, orange juice, ají­ amarillo, and oil.

2. Combine tuna with onion and mayonaise.

3. A causa can be assembled in different ways. Elena used a small stainless-steel ring. First, I placed a layer of the potato mixture, then a layer of avocado, another layer of the potato, then a layer of the tuna mixture, and a final layer of potato. On top, she placed sliced hard-boiled eggs, one or two olives and diced parsley. Serve accompanied by lettuce leaves.

The filling can also be made with chicken, shrimp, octopus, and prawns.

Visit Elena's blog at
El Amor por la Cocina.


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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