The Taste of Peruvian Pisco | The Embassy of Peru| Pisco is Peru

Quinoa Salad- The Embassy of Peru
Quinoa Salad- The Embassy of Peru

My date with Peru and its food!

Those who often visit my blog, would know that I am all for every opportunity that comes my way, where I get to celebrate and learn about a new culture or cuisine.

So naturally I was quite excited to be a part of an evening where we got to celebrate Peru’s rich cultural, historical and gastronomical wealth, at The Art Gallery of the Embassy of Peru. Besides, the unveiling of 4 Peruvian cookbooks on Rice, Potato and Corn, the gala event enlightened us about Peruvian traditions, from the ancient period of Andes and Amazon, to the ones from Modern Peru.

Sipping on some Chicha Morada, talking to dignitaries from the Embassy, I learnt how the food of Peru is an amalgamation of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Italian cuisines. I learnt, from the kind ambassador, that the hugely popular Chicha Morada, is a drink made from Purple Corn (native to Mesoamerica). One sip later I could taste the chunks of Apple, Pineapple and the flavour of Lime and Spices, in this non-alcoholic drink.

Followed by Chilcano, a beautiful concoction of Pisco (grape brandy made with white grapes grown in Peru, aged without additives like a fermented wine, contains alcohol between 38% to 48 %), Lime, Ginger Ale and Angostura Bitters. This traditional drink was nice and refreshing. However, it was Pisco Sour that won my heart. A prized possession of Peru, considered the National Drink, Pisco Sour is a cocktail made with Pisco, Lime Juice, Egg White and Angostura Bitters. Not too strong, one can have as many portions of this hugely popular Latin American cocktail and enjoy the easy buzz.

Before we sat down for dinner, there was a small cooking demo, where we learnt how to make Ceviche. Known as the national dish of Peru, it incorporates a fairly simple method of cooking – marination. Served cold, it is made using seafood, citrus (lime), onion, corn, chili pepper and salt-pepper. I loved the fresh, meaty and tarty flavour of this dish. A perfect appetizer or even a main dish, on days when it’s hot and you don’t want to have overtly spicy food.

And you can’t have a Peruvian meal without a hearty portion of Quinoa Salad. Renowned for producing the highest quality of Quinoa, Peru has 80% farms producing this highly nutritious grain from Puno region. Quinoa with corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, olives, onions and salt-pepper makes for some delicious, refreshing salad. It was truly a blessing to eat this cold salad along with some fine Peruvian Wine.

Keeping up with the delicious cold food, there was another cold dish – Causa. This simple to make dish, is certainly a delight for Potato lovers. Between two layers of mashed yellow potatoes seasoned with salt-pepper, there was a layer of tuna. Garnished with boiled egg and black olives on top, it was quite filling and I couldn’t help myself from taking a second serving of this. I was told, in Peru, they use avocados, instead of tuna, when preparing a vegetarian version.

I also merrily tucked into huge portions of Pollo Saltado – stir fried chicken, with fries, veggies, onions, tomatoes and peppers in yummy tangy sauce. There were rice too, but I opted to have this sans the rice. This tasted like a refined and nicer version of Chili chicken with fries.

And to end our Peruvian food fair, there was Purple Corn Pudding, Alfajores, Suspiro Limeno in dessert.

Alfajores, a cookie made with cornstarch and dulce de leche, was soft in texture. This sweet tasted like a cross between Marzipan and Royal Icing.

Suspiro Limeno was a dessert made with thickened cream with sugar, almond flour and milk topped with meringue. This cream tasted similar to that of caramelized condensed milk, with a hint of cinnamon. I couldn’t taste much of almond flour though.

And Purple Corn Pudding had lots of chunks of Pineapple and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg etc. This pudding tasted more like a topping of a cheesecake or any set dessert.

Besides eating all the delicious food, I had a great time chatting with warm and kind H.E. Mr Jorge Castañeda, the Ambassador of the Republic of Peru. He shared many anecdotes about Peruvian cuisine, its history, ingredients and influences. The event was fun and truly enlightening.

Famously known for it’s diverse flavours, Peruvian food has uniqueness of multiple cultures co-existing in one dish. And, who wouldn’t want to experience this blend by chugging down a portion of Pisco Sour, dancing around with fun Peruvian people. I truly can’t wait to be there, one day.

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