Many of you have asked what the food is like in Arequipa. Peru is known throughout the world for various foods. If you are a fan of french fries, pizza sauce, or sweet potato casserole, you have Peru to thank. I hope you are learning more about Peruvian cuisine by reading through the recipes featured each month. Aside from those dishes, in the next couple of newsletters I want to highlight some of the food that Peru is known for, specifically the food in Arequipa.
Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world. Thanks to its pre-Inca and Inca heritage and to Spanish, Basque, African, Sino- Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British immigration (mainly throughout the 19th century), Peruvian cuisine combines the flavors of four continents. With the eclectic variety of traditional dishes, the Peruvian culinary arts are in constant evolution, and impossible to list in their entirety.
Suffice it to mention that along the Peruvian coast alone there are more than two thousand different types of soups, and that there are more than 250 traditional desserts.
The great variety in Peruvian cuisine stems from three major influences:
- Peru's unique geography.
- Peru's openness and blending of distinct races and cultures
- The incorporation of ancient cuisine into modern Peruvian cuisine Peru is considered an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops:
- Maize (AKA corn), 35 varieties
- Tomatoes, 15 species 3. Potatoes, 4,000 varieties. The International Potato Center, which goes by its Spanish name's initials (CIP short for Centro Internacional de la Papa) that is devoted to the investigation and genetic conservation of the potato, is located in Lima, Peru.
- Sweet potatoes, 2,016 varieties
- Fish, 2,000 species of fish, both freshwater and saltwater (more than any other country on Earth)
- Fruit, 650 native species. It is also famed for its large number of species of bananas. The variety of climate itself can provide for the bringing of fruits from all over the world.
From Peru, the Spanish brought back to Europe foods which would become staples for many peoples around the world:
- Potatoes: Potatoes, originally from Peru, were considered livestock feed in Europe until French chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began serving dishes made from the tubers at his lavish banquets. His guests were immediately convinced that potatoes were fit for human consumption. Parmentier's introduction of the potato is still discussed in Europe today.
- Maize: Maize is native to all of Central and South America.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from Latin America.