Peruvian Independence Day: La Cultura Peruana

Peruvian Independence Day: La Cultura Peruana

¡Felices Fiestas Patrias, Perú! On Tuesday, July 28th, Perú celebrated its 199 years of independence. The Fiestas Patrias are usually a two day celebration with parades highlighting Perú’s diverse cultures and honoring the military and food festivals showcasing Perú’s delicious cuisine.

To celebrate Perú’s Independence Day this week, Latina Republic’s Latin American Correspondents created this informative guide to highlight traditions and culture that embody the diversity of Perú!

 

President Martín Vizcarra delivers Mensaje a la Nación on July 28, 2020.
Source: RPP

 

To begin the Fiestas Patrias celebration, President Martín Vizcarra gave el Mensaje a la Nación, where he addressed the state of the country throughout the coronavirus pandemic, plans for economic and health recovery, and the future of democratic elections. The President’s message honored the families who lost relatives to COVID-19 and embodied hope by highlighting the government’s necessity and plans to combat the political and health crises.

Due to COVID-19 and insufficient funding for public systems, Peru and its citizens have experienced tremendous loss in employment, security and family members. With Perú being the second hardest-hit country in Latin America, and the government cancelling the usual two-days off from work for the national holiday, there’s a struggle within the Peruvian community to celebrate this year’s Fiestas Patrias. Latina Republic’s correspondents hope to share the different ways people can still celebrate and learn more about Peruvian culture while in quarantine.

Gastronomia

If there’s anything Peruvians agree on, it’s that they have one of the best cuisines in the world. In 2019, for the eight-time, Perú won the World’s Leading Culinary Travel Destination by the World Travel Awards. What makes Peruvian cuisine unique is its various fusions of cooking that come from different cultures such as Peruvian indigenous communities, African slaves, Japanese and Chinese immigrants, and Arab influences. The three central regions: the coast, the Andes, and the Amazon, have their native ingredients and cooking styles. Here are a few dishes from each area we’d like to highlight! 

The Coast 

The dishes from the coastal region of Perú are the most popular and recognizable to people around the world: Ceviche, jalea, anticuchos. Peruvian street food that is easily accessible in the city of Lima takes center stage in the international food community. The dish most popularly associated with Peruvian cuisine is ceviche, fish marinated and cooked with lime juice topped with onions, chili pepper, and salt.

Peruvian ceviche is a part of Nikkei cuisine, a combination of Japanese and Peruvian influences. Due to the wave of Japanese immigrants and their impact in the kitchen, Peruvians started making ceviche by allowing the dish to preserve its freshness and sea taste. If you are ever in Peru, make sure to stop by the Netflix Streetfood Latinoamerica featured restaurant, Al Toke Pez, in Lima, Perú!

Ceviche from Al Toke Pez in Lima, Perú. Source: Street Food Latinoamerica: Perú

 

African Influences 

During the Spanish rule, conquistadors brought African slaves to Perú for exploitation. In their search to find a familiar taste, African slaves began using Peruvian ingredients to create recipes from home. Out of this was born Afro-Peruvian culture that influenced Peruvian cuisine by creating several popular dishes such as anticuchos and picarones. 

Anticuchos consists of pieces of skewered, grilled cow hearts. Modern anticuchos are typically marinated with red wine vinegar and various spices such as aji panca, creating a savoring flavor when cooked. Anticuchos are a big part of street food cuisine in Peru and can be found in particular every corner of Lima. If you ever visit Peru, make sure to eat some delicious anticuchos at Dona Pochita’s food cart!  

 

Anticuchos from Dona Pochita in Lima, Perú. Source: Food Latinoamerica: Perú

 

Another integral dish in Afro-Peruvian cuisine is picarones, a type of doughnut. If you are ever in Lima and decide to go to Parque Kennedy, you’ll catch a glimpse of these vibrant red and yellow carts selling popular Peruvian street food. One of the most popular red food carts in the area is Picarones Mary.

People will wait in long lines to eat these crispy, delicious, and sweet picarones. Created by enslaved African slaves cooks during Spanish-rule, picarones were born out of the Peruvian sweet potato, squash, and flour mixed to create an orangy dough, fried until it has a crispy exterior and served with sweet syrup. Picarones are definitely a guilty pleasure dessert for locals.  

 

Picarones from Picarones Mary in Lima, Peru. Source: Food Latinoamerica: Perú

 

The Andes 

Although coastal cuisine is the most popular internationally, to get to the heart of Peruvian gastronomy, one must go to the Andes! Food from the Andes highlights the origins of Peruvian cuisine created by the country’s indigenous communities. The Andes has all the essential ingredients in Peruvian dishes: potatoes, different types of corn, quinoa, aji panca, aji amarillo, lucuma, etc. The Andes of Peru have a wealth of ingredients, dishes, and cooking techniques highlighted through Pachamanca. 

 

Pachamanca

 

Source: La Republica

 

In Quechua, a Peruvian indigenous language, Pachamance means olla de tierra, “earth oven” or “earth pot.” Pachamanca is a traditional cooking method that uses only hot stones, created decades ago by the Inca civilization. Pachamanca’s preparation involves seasoned meat, herbs, and vegetables buried in a bed of hot rocks left to cook for several hours. It’s a long but rewarding process! 

Watch the entire process of Pachamanca here!

 

 

 

Papa La Huancaina 

 

Source: Pandemonium Noshery

 

Papa la huancaina is a traditional dish from Huancayo, a town in the Andes. It’s typically served as a side dish and consists of sliced potatoes and boiled eggs topped with huancaina, a creamy yellow sauce. It’s one of the most simple and popular recipes in Peru and tastes fantastic when paired with arroz con pollo! 

 

Arroz con pollo y papa la huancaina. Source: Pinterest.

 

La Selva / The Amazon 

Peru’s Amazonian cuisine is unique due to the rainforest’s wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. From the Amazon, Peruvians can enjoy their delicious and daily eaten fruits papayas, maracuya (passion fruit), chirimoya (custard apple), and mangos.

Peru’s Amazonian cuisine is unique due to the rainforest’s wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. From the Amazon, Peruvians can enjoy their delicious and daily eaten fruits papayas, maracuya (passion fruit), chirimoya (custard apple), and mangos.

Due to the plentiful amount of fish, most of the dishes in the region include soups and stews. If you’re unable to visit the Peruvian Amazon and try the regional dishes, there are a variety of Amazonian Fusion restaurants in the city of Lima! 

A popular Amazonian dish served in these restaurants is the Tacacho con cecina. The dish consists of molded balls of fried plantain mashed with chicharrones (fried pork belly) and is typically accompanied with cecina, dried, smoked meat. This dish is a hearty Peruvian meal usually served for breakfast!  

 

Tacacho mixto con cecina from TK Restaurant in the Lince district of Lima, Peru. Source: Authentic Food Quest.

 

Places to Visit

There are many hidden gems in the city of Lima and all throughout the country! Here are a few places on our travel list that are worth checking out! 

Lima  

 

Centro histórico de Lima, Perú. Source: Taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

To live out your tourist dream in the capital city, visit el Centro Historico de Lima. El Centro was founded by Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro in January 1535 and became the main political, administrative and religious center of the city.

 

Artisanal shop en El Centro. Source: Taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

El Centro is known for its beautiful Spanish Gothic architecture, churches, and museums. What people do not know about the area is that there are a lot of hidden artisan shops! Before making a hasty shopping decision, make sure to walk around and scourge the different artisan shops, you might find a unique gift to bring back home! 

 

Punta Hermosa, Lima, Peru. Source: Taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

Pack your bathing suit and a beach towel to enjoy a fun summer getaway in Punta Hermosa in Lima! Punta Hermosa is one of the most popular beach sites in the city of Lima. From December to March, hundreds of people make their way to the beach district to enjoy cool off from the summer heat!

 

Fishing boats in Naplo, Lima, Perú. Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

Compared to Punta Hermosa, the beach in Naplo is a bit farther away from the city, making it a hidden gem for tourists. Unlike typical beaches, there are no waves, and the water is cold en la playa de Naplo.

 

Swimming in Naplo, Lima, Perú. Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

What makes this beach unique is the opportunity to take a boat ride around the town! In this hour-long ride, you can witness Naplo’s fish markets, sea animals roaming around, and even take a moment when the boat stops, jump in the water, and swim around!

Ica

Water oasis in la Huacachina, Ica, Perú Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

One of the places to visit that is a must in Peru is the little settlement of la Huacachina. La Huacachina is a little oasis with palm trees in the middle of a desert. Like many cultural sites in Peru, the story of la Huacachina is a story of many legends, one of them being that the water has healing powers.

 

Dung buggies in Huacachina, Perú. Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

There are many things to do in Peru’s famous desert oasis, whether that be cruising over the dunes in a dune buggy, going bodyboarding and sandboarding, or taking a boat out around the water, la Huacachina is a hot spot destination for locals and tourists.

Huancayo

La Plaza Constitución, Huancayo, Perú. Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

To get an authentic feel and taste of Peruvian Andean culture, visit Huancayo! Huancayo is the heart and commercial center for the Peruvian Central Andes highlands.

 

Laguna de Paca, Huancayo, Perú. Source: Photo taken by Jennifer Collao.

 

If you are coming from Lima, it’s a trek to get to the Andean city, usually a seven-hour bus ride, but completely worth the trip! Go hiking and experience some spectacular views of the city visit Torre Torre, the eroded sand towers. Take a short car ride to La Laguna de Paca.

While there, you can enjoy a great meal with a spectacular view of La Sirena de Oro restaurant. Take a boat ride around la laguna with locals to hear about the laguna’s beautiful and mysterious legends. Visitors can also visit the Parque de Identidad Huanca, a park filled with sculptures, stone walls, and flowers. Lovers and families stroll around the park to take in the beauty of the city’s rich culture. To take a little piece of Huancayo home with you, visit the various artisan markets where you can find handicrafts and delicious Andean food. 

 

Music

Festejo Peruano: A festive form dance by Afro-Peruanos Source: La Candelaria.

 

Peruvian music represents the diverse Andean, African, and Spanish influences that have come together throughout the country’s history.

 

Marinera: a dance to honor the Navy of Peru. Source: EcuRed

 

We selected two Spotify playlists, Tradición Peruana and Hecho en Perú, highlighting traditional Peruvian classics and exploring new music from Peruvian artists.

 

Media 

Peruvian cinema allows audiences to view a visual representation of how the filmmaker identifies Peru. The viewer can experience Peru through the eyes of the filmmakers. Through this visual experience, people can get to know Peruvian culture, humor, cities, and identity.

If you haven’t seen a Peruvian movie yet, Netflix has a variety of options that highlights Peru’s silly and witty humor, in romantic comedies Soltera Codiciada (How to Get Over a Breakup) and Asu Mare 1 & 2. Soltera Codiciada is a story about a heartbroken ad copywriter living in Lima, Peru, who decided to write a blog about her life as a single woman during her journey of getting over her recent breakup.

 

Source: Netflix. Gisela Ponce de León in Soltera Codiciada.

 

Asu Mare is a film adaptation of Peruvian comedian Carlos Alcantra’s road to fame. The film has broken records in Peruvian cinemas by having the biggest opening day and being the all-time grossing Peruvian film ever. Both films are exactly what you’d expect from a rom-com; it’s corny (yet captures Peruvian humor exceptionally well), dramatic (but what Peruvian movie isn’t?), and hopeful, leaving us with a message that things will get better.

 

Caption: Carlos Alcántara in ¡Asu Mare! Source: Explica.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Peruvian cuisine, Netflix recently released the second season of its show Street Food, now focusing on Latin America, which highlights the vendors and cultural significance of foods in six countries. Lima, Peru, is one of the featured cities, and we recommend checking out the episode to see some classic Peruvian foods and hearing from a Japanese-Peruvian cook.

 

 

If you don’t feel comfortable with your cooking abilities and want to taste some of the food we mentioned, we suggest you search for Peruvian restaurants in your area to support your local businesses! Peruvian chicken restaurants are usually trendy and make for a great takeout meal.

Podcasts

Source: Radio Ambulante

Podcasts are a great way to hear stories while learning about different topics and cultures. Radio Ambulante is a Spanish-speaking podcast, supported by NPR, that narrates stories and news from Latin America. The creator of Radio Ambulante, Daniel Alarcon, is a Peruvian journalist currently teaching at Columbia University.

The Radio Ambulante team made several episodes featuring Peru! Two of our favorites are Contra la gastronomía peruana, which talks about Peru’s pride in its national cuisine. Another episode, Perú Campeón, explores the historic qualification of the Peruvian national team to the 2018 World Cup and the sense of national joy that accompanied their journey. While these stories are in Spanish, the Radio Ambulante website also has English transcriptions of the episodes.

Books

From history to fiction, we selected a few books that captured the culture and diversity of Peru and would help readers get some insight into the country. 

 

Source: Amazon.

 

Death in the Andes – Mario Vargas Llosa The work of the World-renowned and Nobel Prize winning author from Peru often features Peru as a setting for his stories. The book is a political thriller filled with suspense set in a remote village. Vargas Llosa covers parts of Peru’s history through writing about the Shining Path, a guerilla group founded in the 1980s. This book gives context to the traditions, customs, and politics of contemporary Peru through its gripping stories. If this particular book doesn’t draw you in, Vargas Llosa as a number of other celebrated works to choose from. 

 

Source: Amazon.

 

The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics – Orin Starn, Robin Kirk, Carlos Ivan Degregori (editors) For those that want to learn about the rich history of Peru to understand more about its diversity and past, this anthology serves as a good primer. It is a collection of essays, documents, poetry, and accounts from a variety of Peruvian academics, politicians, and citizens. This book covers the history of pre-Colombian civilizations up to the 21st century and while it is vast, readers can select chapters they want to focus on. 

 

Source: Amazon

 

In Search of an Inca – Alberto Flores Galindo This book goes past Peru’s borders and looks at the history of the Andean region as a whole, which shares a unique cultural identity in South America. It explores the ways in which Incan heritage has influenced the ways people think of colonialism and injustice.

The idea of the “Andean utopia” of the precolonial period has served as a way to organize and develop social and political goals for the future and this book gives necessary context to the societies that are included in the Andean region.

We hope you enjoyed this brief guide and introduction to Peruvian culture and that our suggestions will lead you to learn more about the country and its people, as well as its Latin American neighbors. 

Featured Image Credits: Peruvians singing the national anthem. Source: EFE & La República Peru 





Jennifer Collao | Claremont McKenna College
Jennifer is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna College, majoring in International Relations and Film Studies. Her interest in Latin American politics and migration studies stem from her experiences as a Peruvian immigrant living in New York City. Throughout her undergraduate career, Jennifer has conducted investigative research projects in Peru and Argentina regarding intra-regional migration, transnational practices, and women migrants. After graduation, Jennifer hopes to combine her passion for politics and film to pursue a career in digital journalism. As a Latin American Correspondent, she is excited to contribute to an organization that values storytelling and promotes awareness of human rights issues in Latin America.



Sofia Munoz | Scripps College
Sofia is a rising junior at Scripps College pursuing a major in Politics with a concentration in International Relations and a minor in Foreign Languages. Raised in Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of Washington, D.C., she is the daughter of two Bolivian immigrants. Her interest in Latin American politics stems from her connection to her family’s culture and her experience living in Brazil. She is interested in exploring the different sides of international development work and looking at the ways local people and organizations impact their communities. As a Latin American correspondent, Sofia is excited to delve into the unique stories and passion that fuels the work being done to address inequality, human rights, and community development.


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