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

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


Anonymous said...

My husband sometimes talks about what it was like during the first Garcia administration ... and he always mentions "pan popular", and how horrible it was.

There are wonderful artisan breads in Peru. One of my favorites are these cute tiny circular rolls, that you can use to make mini-sandwiches. So you don't feel as guilty about eating oh, 7 of them ... or 10 ... or 20.

::Alejandro:: said...

I missed those García years, yet as your husband attests, that was when the quality of bread in Peru fell dramatically. I've heard this from many sources. I agree there are great artisan breads in Peru, but I still like freshly-baked pan francés, especially at breakfast.


Luis Colan said...

Hey there, you've taken me back to when I was a little boy as well. I was in charge of fetching the bread for "lonche" and I can still remember the feel of the bolsa de tela my mon made. I loved picking the crums from the bottom of the bag!!!! I miss my pan frances, and I love the little rolls Carol mentions in her comment. I remember my family using these for sandwiches in fancy family parties! Man, I'm walking down memory lane...thanks for putting a smile on my face tonight!

Anonymous said...

did you kwon any recipe for bread? I really like this called “cachitos� I tried in Trujillo once.
If you known please post the recipes.

::Alejandro:: said...

Luis, glad I was able to take you down memory lane.


::Alejandro:: said...

from dc: sorry, I don't have any recipes. Anybody else have them?

Luis Colan said...

I wish I had the recipe for "cachitos", I love those things! Hope some one out there could help with this!


Anonymous said...

Thre cachitos recipe

Ham Croissant Rolls (Cachitos de Jamon)
Clara Hernandez (
Translated by Angela Hansen (

1 tablespoon yeast (one package)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
4 and 3/4 cup flour
3 lightly beaten eggs
melted butter
ham, diced, cut into long, thin strips, or deviled (if you're lazy)


Put the yeast, a small amount of water and 1/2 cup warm water into a small container. Let rise for 10 minutes or so.

In a large glass bowl, combine the sugar, salt, oil and milk. Add the flour and knead until everything is mixed. Then add the eggs and keep kneading. Finally, add the yeast mixture and stir until the mixture has a consistent texture (that sounds backwards to me, but I didn't write the recipe--I'm just translating).

Cover the mixture with plastic wrap (or stick in a plastic bag) and let it rise in a warm place for two hours.

Knead the dough again, and then divide it into four equal parts. Work with one part at a time.

Roll each part of the dough into a 25 centimeter (10 inch) circle using a rolling pin--not yesterday's wine bottle, Coke bottle or whatever :) Cut the flattened dough into 8 triangles, as if you were cutting a cake. Place ham in the widest part of each triangle. Then roll up each triangle, beginning at the widest part (where the ham is) and rolling towards the point of the triangle (which used to be the middle of the circle). Place the wrapped-up ham on a cookie sheet or pan, with the point folded underneath so it doesn't come unrolled.

Cover the rolls with plastic and let rise for one hour in a warm place. Pre-heat oven to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brush melted butter on each roll and cook them in the heated oven for 15 minutes or until they are light golden. Remove them from the oven and brush with either a mixture of water and sugar or with an egg white. Return them to the oven until they are golden brown.

Yields 32 rolls, of a decent size.

P.S. If your dough does not raise it's because your yeast is old. Don't assume the yeast you bought at Christmas to make "panes de jamon" (another recipe for ham bread) will still work. Buy new yeast.

P.P.S. Eat the rolls while hot.

P.P.P.S. If you don't want quite so many rolls, you can freeze the dough and make them another day. Or if you like, you can make the rolls without the ham and leave them in the freezer for up to two months. You can cook those after thawing them for only a few minutes. But I always just make 32 rolls and four of us eat them all within two days.

GOOD LUCK! Sounds tasty/
8 months ago

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