March 27th, 2013
08:45 PM ET
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More and more Americans are flocking to Peruvian food and discovering a world of flavor beyond pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken). This diverse cuisine, with influences from Andean to Spanish, Japanese and Chinese to African and Italian, is quickly finding its rightful place in the national food scene.

Credit is due in part to Gastón Acurio, the country’s most recognized chef, who acts as the unofficial ambassador of Peruvian cuisine with 34 restaurants in 14 cities worldwide, including the recently-opened La Mar Cebicheria in New York City. In 2008, Acurio, together with Apega, the Peruvian Society for Gastronomy founded Mistura. This 10-day food festival brings together street vendors, herbal stands and high-end chefs showcasing their most popular dishes and attracts over 300,000 every year.

Now, scaled-down versions of this event - complete with quinoa desserts, fresh bread, and traditional herbal drinks - are popping up outside of Peru.


“We were just walking around and saw everyone here dancing and selling food, so we popped in to see what was going on,” said Manhattan resident La La Brooks. “Now I’m eating some potatoes with this amazing sauce. I need to learn how to make this at home.”

Brooks was referring to a signature Peruvian dish, papa a la huancaina. It's a spicy cheese sauce served over sliced potatoes and boiled eggs, typically served cold as a first course or appetizer, and she was enjoying it in the courtyard of St. Mark’s Church, one of the oldest churches in Manhattan.

The space was transformed into an Peruvian Andean market last Sunday, complete with arts, crafts, music and dance performances and, of course, food stands. El Mercadito Andino, which translates to the “The Andean Market” was organized by Abya Yala Arte y Cultura, a non-profit cultural organization deeply rooted in celebrating the cultural identity of the native communities of Latin America.


“Our focus for this market was to offer food that is commonly found in our Peruvian markets and homes, but not commonly found in Peruvian restaurants in New York,” said Ana Noriega, president of Abya Yala Arte y Cultura. Vendors also offered traditional Andean dishes like yaco chupe (green soup with a base of potato, cheese, garlic, coriander leaves, peppers and eggs) and yuyo verde con canchita (seaweed and Peruvian popcorn).

“Everyone is talking about Peruvian food now, but very few people know much more about it than cebiche and pisco sours,” Morena Escardó told NBCLatino. She's the author of “The Everything Peruvian Cookbook” and blogs with her mother Moreno Cuadra at Peru Delights.

“Our cuisine is very complex, reflecting our long and multicultural history," Escardó said, "We wanted people to learn this, so they can better understand our techniques and ingredients. “


Peruvians are one of the ten largest Latino population groups (making up more than half a million people) in the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center. About 13% of Peruvians live in New York, and 15% in New Jersey - a statistic which might explain the presence of over 100 Peruvian restaurants in New York's tri-state area.

Frommer's picked Lima, Peru as their Top Food & Drink Destination of 2012 for their “cultural miscegenation - a rich stew of Spanish, African, Chinese and Japanese - is reflected in its culinary fusion” which could explain why the capital city has become a destination for food-focused tourists. For those who can't make the journey, click through the gallery above to be inspired by Peruvian delights from yacochupe to alfajores.

Previously - el Dia de Las Gracias – Thanksgiving with a Latin twist

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Filed under: Gaston Acurio • Peru

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soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Aldo Rondo

    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment�s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

    July 30, 2014 at 9:52 am |
  2. Roberto

    FYI: kiwicha is amaranth.

    June 9, 2013 at 9:20 am |

    I think the bubble may be ready to burst in Cleveland Ohio! (because it sucks that we have to drive all the way out to Cinncinnati, New Jersey or New York to check out their method Peruvian dish and compare to how we make it at home)

    Oh! And many of our Peruvian mamis would make great chefs :-)

    May 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  4. Roberto Carlos

    I love Peruvian food! This recipe is one of my favorites as well...

    April 25, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  5. levantine18

    This is all very much in line with the ongoing Peruvian gastrodiplomacy efforts: Cheers to Peru for using its cuisine for cultural diplomacy. But I want to see some cuye being promoted...

    April 3, 2013 at 2:15 am |
  6. Doris Armijo

    Being Peruvian American, I can say that living in New York means, for the most part, you live deprived of decent food, unless you can cook a decent meal everyday at home. Your choices out there are not that great, is either food that is actually junk, too greasy, tasteless, unhealthy, kept in a freezer way too long or ridden with artificial flavoring. Peruvian
    restaurants in New York have a very limited menu, their preparation is usually not authentic and their prices are too high. Everybody likes food, but we Peruvians LOVE food, we are very serious about the ingredients, the preparation, and the flavor, and yes, we eat rice and potatoes but we also eat a lot of other grains, tubers, vegetables, legumes and fruits. I miss Yacu chupe, Chuno con queso, Carapulcra, Chanfainita, Picante de cuy, Patasca, and many others. Sad I did not know about this event. When is the next one? Thanks for a great article, Cindy Rodriguez :-) good job!

    March 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  7. Adam A

    I have not had Peruvian, but it's one of the next cuisines I'd like to try. I love all Latin American food I have had...and I enjoy comparing them against each other.

    March 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • cindyrodriguezcnn

      Welcome to the wonderful world of Peruvian food! Please let me know what you have and what you thought of it. :)

      March 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  8. Mitchell Teplitsky

    Levanta las manos para Cindy Rodriguez! (and Peruvian food!)

    March 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  9. T. Hirschler Alberti

    Reblogged this on dear you and commented:
    Being half Peruvian, it makes me very proud that they've burst onto the eating scene with all the awesome foods that I always brag about back home. Everyone loves food, but few can equal the love of food these people have

    March 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • cindyrodriguezcnn

      Being Peruvian-American myself, I can totally relate. Thank you for your comment!

      March 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • T. Hirschler Alberti

        Thanks! It made me literally squidge when I saw the movement to bring Inca Cola to the States to all those places called Peru, like Peru, Vermont.
        I'm in London know and they have four restaurants open; one which isn't as well known, three which have all opened in the last year or so, all three really welcomed, especially Ceviche, I believe, as it is smack in the center of Soho and has such chilled, Peruvian decor

        March 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  10. VladT

    I made a joke about sacramento, without anything bad.

    Is there a reason my comments are no awaiting moderation a lot more now?

    March 28, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      No idea! But I try to go in and approve them as quickly as possible.

      March 28, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  11. VladT

    A dish with eggs, potatoes, and a spicy cheese sauce?

    I think I must now explore Peruvian cuisine....too bad I live in Sacramento, where having an IHOP and a Denny's in the same neighborhood is considered culinary diversity :P

    March 28, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • cindyrodriguezcnn

      Fear not! Peruvian food is everywhere!

      March 28, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • cindyrodriguezcnn

      I have heard of "Waffle King/ Koricancha." They have "Papa a la Huancaina" and "Lomo Saltado" on the menu. Let me know what you think :)

      March 28, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  12. Bob1god

    I luv trying new food, I'm sick to death of plain boring American crap. Live to eat & luv!

    March 28, 2013 at 4:42 am |
    • cindyrodriguezcnn

      Then, Peruvian food is the way to go. Meat? check. Potatoes? check. Ceviche? double check. Let me know what you try :)

      March 28, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  13. k

    Yaih for Latin America!

    March 28, 2013 at 1:55 am |
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