Sunday, 15 February 2009

First Peruvian Feria Gastronomica big success

Lima – 28 September 2008 - Today ended the three day Feria Internacional Gastronómica de Lima under the name Perú Mucho Gusto. Approximately 25.000 people visited this gastronomy spectacle in the Cuartel San Martín in the district of Miraflores in the Peruvian capital. As the days before, this day showed long queues in the nearby streets.

With this event and of course her cuisine Peru is lining up with gastronomical heavy weights as Italy, France and China. According to Spanish chef Bruno Oteiza, whose Mexican restaurant Biko is number 89 on the San Pellegrino top 100 of best restaurants in the world, this event can be compared to the Salone del Gusto of Slowfood in Turin. According to him the most distinctive elements in the Peruvian cuisine are the freshness and originality of the ingredients. He names corn (choclo) and the wide variety of potatoes in Peru as the most important products. Gastón Acurio, the most famous Peruvian chef, thinks however that aji (peppers) are the most characteristic element in the Peruvian cuisine.

The word most appropriate for Peruvian food is fusion. The traditional Peruvian food developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth century by mixing native products – potatoes, aji, corn – with products that were introduced by the Spaniards, like beef and milk. A well known creole dish is for instance papa a la huancaína (cooked yellow potatoes with a sauce of aji amarillo, fresh cheese, oil and evaporated milk). The African slaves had influence on the cuisine as well, especially in the region around Chincha, as had the Chinese, who arrived in the nineteenth century. A typical black dish is anticucho (fried heart). In lomo saltado (fried beef, onions and tomatoe with fried potatoes and rice) you can recognise the Chinese stirfrying influence.

The last decades Peruvian food has undergone a development that made it rise above being a combination of folkloristic dishes. Orginal products and recipes were prepared in a new way, often in combination with other national products, for instance from the Amazon jungle. This makes it a real cuisine. Every region has its specialities, but Lima has become the capital of the Peruvian cuisine, with many toprestaurants. Nowadays those restaurants are looking for expansion outside Peru.

Back to the feria. This consisted of a central square where several Limenian restuarants presented themselves. Grouped around them were stands with traditional dishes, like antichuco and cebiche. Behind then was a big hall with products from all regions of Peru, with ample opportunity to try and taste everything. During these three days there where several congresses and and a competion among young chefs.

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