By Manuel Villacorta | April 27, 2015
Last month I went back to my native Peru to visit the capitol, Lima, and explore the new food developments popping up. Since I wrote my two Peruvian superfoods books, Peruvian cuisine has taken off in the United States as well as around the world. Those popular effects are being felt in Peru as well, as Lima experiences a growing gastronomic explosion. On this recent journey, I wanted to see firsthand how chefs in these fantastic new restaurants of Lima are incorporating the superfoods I wrote about. I left with a clear sense that Peruvian food truly is the next great world cuisine — especially for people eating particularly healthy, or vegetarian or gluten-free.
In recent years Peru has become an internationally recognized gastronomic epicenter for fusion cuisine, named the world’s leading culinary destination by the World of Travel Awards. Lima has emerged as South America’s food capital for creative, delicious, fusion-inspired dishes, and currently has more chef schools than any other city in the world. The diversity of stunning restaurants there has attracted top chefs such as Gastón Acurio, a gastronomic powerhouse who also endorsed my book Peruvian Power Foods. On my recent trip to Peru, local vegetarian gourmet Roger Loayza helped me find some of the very best restaurants — including those using Peruvian superfoods. The traditional Peruvian diet is based on whole foods and mostly gluten-free. Chefs in the best kitchens in Lima today are continuing that tradition, making Lima a center not only for both traditional and adventurous cuisine, but also a paradise for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters.
It’s no surprise that contemporary Peruvian cuisine is sweeping up the world, since Peruvian food already embraces so many different cultures. Peruvian food is marked by complexities dating back to the Spanish conquerors in the 16th century. Before the Spaniards came, the Peruvian diet focused primarily on maize, potatoes, and beans. Afterwards, other cultures combined with the native Inca culinary traditions. In her cookbook The Peruvian Kitchen, chef Morena Cuadra explains that, “Peruvian food, as it is known today, is a fusion of its Incan roots, mixed with Spanish, Arab, African, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and French influences. The ingredients and techniques of each of these culinary traditions have left a clear mark through time on the basic Incan diet, and the result is a vast and colorful range of dishes, each telling a distinct story.” Out of a union of many gastronomies rose Peru as one of the world’s original fusion cuisines.