Peruvian cuisine needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular cuisines in the world today and restaurants across London, Paris and New York today serve Peruvian dishes ranging from Cuy to Anticuchos de Corazón. What sets Peruvian cuisine apart is its diverse influences, ranging from indigenous to African, Chinese and European. The best way to learn about Peruvian history and culture is through its cuisine.
Peru has historically been home to the Wari, the Incas and the Moches. There have been various other civilizations in the past and they have all had their own unique way of cooking and drinking. When the Spanish colonizers arrived in Peru, they brought Mediterranean and European flavors to this bustling nation. African descendants ensured that the spices and flavors of Africa weren’t lost during the transcontinental savagery of slave trade. Recent immigrants from China, Japan and other Asian countries have ensured that there’s a healthy share of Pan-Asian influence on Peruvian cuisine.
All these various global influences have seamlessly integrated with indigenous recipes and resulted in the unique Peruvian cuisine that we know today. You need to be mindful that Peruvian cuisine varies widely across the country and Amazonian, Andean and coastal cuisines vary dramatically. As local fruits, spices and vegetables are incorporated into Peruvian cuisine, you’ll see that there are huge differences in the way people cook and consume food in this vast nation.
It is precisely because of these varied influences that Peruvian cuisine is so unique. It reveals the story of human adventures and misadventures, and how the world’s peoples have migrated voluntarily and involuntarily, while also displacing and being displaced. The next time you’re in Peru and bite into something exotic, don’t forget that you’re biting into a slice of human history. Do ask people what the story behind your dinner or lunch is, and most Peruvians will be happy to narrate the history behind what you’re eating.