Finally, Peruvian food has emerged from the shadows and is receiving the international recognition it deserves. In London, the Peruvian restaurant Lima and its head chef Virgilio Martinez were recently awarded Michelin star status (their first of many, we hope) – the first such accolade for a Peruvian restaurant in London. Another proponent of Peruvian food is Martin Morales who, after the phenomenal success of Ceviche in Soho, is opening a second restaurant in Shoreditch. It seems that Londoners can’t get enough of the taste of Peru. And with good reason too…
You wouldn’t think that nestled away in the corner of South America lays one of the most varied gastronomies. But it is Peru’s location that makes its cuisine so diverse. The seafood rich Pacific Ocean is on Peru’s doorstep, the Amazon gives birth to exotic fruits and herbs, and the Andes provides the perfect climate for potatoes and corn. It is the availability of full, fresh ingredients and the fusion of many different cultures that really sets Peru apart. With common dishes like cerviche, to chifa and nikkei – drawn from Chinese and Japanese migration into Peru, or dishes that can trace their ancestry back thousands of years like pachamanca – succulent meat, traditional, local potatoes and lima beans cooked on hot stones buried underground; Peru really comes alive with its food, and there is a dish to suit even the most discerning of critics.
Host to the largest food festival in Latin America, Mistura, Peru – and the Peruvians – take their food exceptionally seriously, with a passion to rival even that of the Italians. Fresh, spicy and full of variety, Peru offers a culinary experience like no other. But, with the bold Mexican and Caribbean flavours to the north, possibly the world’s best steak producer to the south and vibrant, fruity tastes from the east, it is easy to see why Peru has sat somewhat in the shadows until the efforts of a brave few to export it worldwide; and we should all be thankful they did.
London best keep its ears – and stomachs – open for the arrival of “the Peruvian Jamie Oliver”, Gaston Acurio, who is rumoured to have his sights set on the city. It’s about time the rest of the world learnt that food in Peru isn’t just limited to a roasted guinea pig, or half leg of llama, although they still taste delicious too.