Peruvian cuisine does not need a special presentation. Thinking about our country is already synonymous with good food, with recipes full of flavour and tradition that is kept alive over low heat in every kitchen.
Coque Ossio is the Head Chef of Cusco Restaurants, one of the gastronomic references in the Imperial City. We talked with him about how do Peruvians eat, and this is what he told us:
What is it about Peruvian food that has made it so popular?
Coque: One thing Peruvian food has is its flavour. It is full of colour, which makes it stand out when you put it on the table. We like to mix things up, add rice to the lomo saltado, put a little pepper in it... we love to enjoy food. Some of the dishes may seem similar to those of Indian or Thai food, but our flavours are unique.
They say that every dish tells a story, what does our Peruvian food say about us?
Coque: Peruvian gastronomy shows the great richness we have within ourselves. The many varieties of cuisine in Peru tell us that the country is great. We have the coast, the highlands and the jungle – Peru is diverse and fruitful. You can recognise the fusions that have taken place over the years, while still maintaining the traditional roots. The food here is an art form which allows us to express the cultural diversity we have in our country.
How has the evolution of our gastronomy been over time?
Coque: What has been happening with our gastronomy is that previously it was looking for a cuisine that was very controlled and formal, with structured dishes. Now there is a desire to return to the basics, to the earthenware pot with a stew that tastes like your grandmothers' recipe – something that Peruvian cuisine has never lost. It is excellent that we have a trend to revalue the rusticity, but without losing the stylistic touch that adds an extra twist to create a dish of the highest quality without losing its traditional heart.
What changes have you seen in how tourists appreciate our traditional gastronomy?
Coque: In general, travellers today are much more willing to try new things. The access to information means they can discover beforehand what they are going to find here: the tourist is no longer scared to see a whole fried guinea pig on the table, because he has already seen the photographs on the internet. Before, as chefs, we wanted to be sure that we were offering something they would be willing to eat; nowadays, we have the chance to put more of ourselves into the work and show the full potential of our local cuisine.
Read the full interview with Coque Ossio in our magazine, Ultimate Journeys.
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