Peru: a gastro-tourist’s newest thrill

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 28th September 2010

Peruvian cuisine, once unknown on the world stage, has increasingly become a reason to visit the country for travellers around the globe. Experiencing Peru through its cuisine guarantees an exotic bounty of tastes and aromas, which synthesises with the multiculturalism rooted in the rich and fascinating history of this country.

Peru’s cuisine has a unique mix of Western and Eastern cultural traditions, reflected in its Spanish style soups and stews, Arab sweets and desserts, African contributions to Creole cooking, Italian pastas, Japanese preparations of fish and shellfish, and Chinese culinary methods, cradle of one of the most popular gastronomic traditions in Peru: Chifa.

This original blend of traditions, together with the supply of ingredients from Peru’s distinctive ecological and climatic diversity, has given birth to recipes such as cebiche (raw fish cooked with lemon juice), pachamanca (meat and vegetables cooked underground), chupe de camarones (shrimp soup), ají de gallina (spicy chicken) and juane (cornmash tamales).

“Nearly 50% of the people who come to Peru have considered food as a factor in their decision to visit the country,” said Rafael Noriega from Peru’s National Tourism Board.

The Gastronomic Revolution evolving out of Peru has also arrived in Australia, where Peruvian Chef Alejandro Saravia organises culinary tours to Peru. The tours begin in Sydney with cooking classes and a degustation night, before embarking on a two week gourmet journey to Peru.

Peru’s popularity as a culinary destination was reflected in the recent Mistura 2010, a gastronomic festival celebrated in Lima from the 7th to the 12th of September, where 200,000 visitors attended. Ever since Lima was named “Gastronomic Capital of the Americas” in the Fourth International Summit of Gastronomy Madrid Fusion 2006, its culinary scene has gone from strength to strength.

Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio was recently selected as one of the world’s best chefs  “for his extraordinary culinary vision to innovate Peruvian cuisine”. Acurio is regarded as one of the nine most influential chefs in the world, and has become part of the International Advisory Council of the Basque Culinary Center (BBC), led by Spanish chef Ferran Adriá. The BBC Centre was created in March 2009, and has just started its classes in the School of Culinary and Gastronomic Sciences and the Research and Innovation Centre.