Peruvian cuisine—In healthy body, healthy spirit

Peruvian cuisine—In healthy body, healthy spirit

Chef Christian Bravo in Peru Oishi 2015.

Peru is known as one of the world’s 10 “megadiverse” countries, for its rich diversity in ecosystems, species, genetic resources and culture. Peru’s biodiversity is one of the pillars of its national economy, which plays a direct role in sustaining a large part of the population, has an important role for culture, science and technology and provides essential environmental services in terms of soil fertility, air quality and water supply.

Peru has about 25,000 plant species (10% of the world total) with 30% endemism. Out of these, 4,400 species have known properties and are used by the population. In terms of fauna, Peru is first in number of fish species (close to 2,000 species, 10% of the world total); second in bird fauna (1,736 species); third in amphibians (332 species). There are about 5,528 plant species.

Peru produces potatoes, maize, chili, asparagus, mango, avocado, and quinoa – called the golden grain of the Incas. Quinoa was one of the most important elements of the pre-Hispanic Peruvian diet, along with potatoes. Quinoa is worldwide appreciated because it contains proteins and it is gluten free. Peru is the first world producer and exporter of asparagus, quinoa and maca, and third in provision of Hass avocados and artichokes. Also Peru is the fourth largest exporter of dried peppers; and fifth of grapes and beans; sixth of mangoes and seventh in mandarins, coffee (second largest exporter of organic coffee) and ginger.

Peruvian cuisine is considered among the best in the world. Its richness besides the native cuisine comes from the variety of influences like European, Spanish and Italian; African; and from Asia, with two important contributions from the Chinese and Japanese communities that settled down in Peru. Peruvian food is recommended to consume with pisco the national grape brandy.

Three Peruvian restaurants are placed in “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” of San Pellegrino list 2015. “Central Restaurant” of Virgilio Martínez ranked N°4, “Astrid y Gaston” which is best known for the celebrity chef Gaston Acurio who put Peruvian cuisine on the world map and “Maido” where Peruvian nikkei Mitsuharu Tsumura proposes a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian culinary traditions. Hilton Tokyo, supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Peru, organized the “Peruvian Gourmet & Cultural Promotion: Fascinating Peru” for the ninth consecutive year in November 2015 with the Peruvian chefs Guido Gallia and Clint Martín Ramírez. In Japan, there are about 50 Peruvian restaurants, among them “Bepocah”—the best restaurants announced in Tokyo in 2013.

It’s an important Peruvian policy to support the spread of Peruvian cuisine through restaurants and products. Peru is the country with the world’s largest number of culinary schools and gastronomy university faculties because there is a large demand for national cooks for overseas restaurants, cruisers, etc. since the Peruvian gastronomy boom.

Danza de las tijeras or “Scissors Dance”–Peruvian cultural expression.
Danza de las tijeras or “Scissors Dance”–Peruvian cultural expression.

“The International Food Fair of Lima: Mistura” strives to make Peruvian cuisine a key part of boosting Peru’s gastronomic image internationally. Mistura creates a space of unity for Peruvians and helps to increase Peru’s cultural presence on a global scale. Gastronomy is a powerful tool for strengthening the value of Peru as a brand. Peruvian cuisine was the first cultural expression on the American continent that has earned the distinction of Cultural Heritage of the Americas for the World, awarded by the Organization of American States (OAS). Also recently Peru won the World’s Leading Culinary Destination 2015 by World Travel Awards (WTA) for the fourth consecutive year that recognizes the effort of the Peruvian people. In addition, the “Second World Forum of Gastronomic Tourism”, part of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) will be held in Lima, Peruvian national capital, next year promoting Peru as a world top gastronomic destination to experience cuisine, culture and spectacular nature.

II Festival Oishii Peru (Delicious Peru) is organized once a year in Japan, under the slogan “enjoy our flavours” and “be amazed by our gastronomy and culture”. Japanese people enjoy the Peruvian cuisine for two days. This event is promoted by the Embassy of Peru, organized by the Association of Peruvians in Japan (ASPEJA), supported by Consulates General in Tokyo and Nagoya, the Cervantes Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and sponsored by several Peruvian companies. “Oishii Peru” is a long-term project to promote internationalization of Peruvian cuisine. This allows better integration of Peruvians in Japan and the promotion of tourism to Peru.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru and the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy (Apega) signed a cooperation agreement in 2013, which is a new milestone in the objectives aimed at positioning the Peruvian cuisine abroad, consolidating the Peru as an international tourist destination, boosting export of Peruvian products and promoting Lima as the gastronomic capital of Latin America. The agreement establishes a partnership between public and private sectors to promote Peruvian gastronomy and tourism to different regions.

The book “Peru Honduras, our table. Fusion cuisine and culinary diplomacy”, of the former Ambassador of Peru in Honduras, Guillermo Gonzales Arica, won the first place at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2015 in the category of embassies, which is known as the Oscars of culinary literature. This book is about the economic impact of a strategy of gastronomic diplomacy with cooperation that took place in Honduras and allows the training in Peruvian cuisine techniques of 1044 Hondurans in 17 out of the 18 departments from that country. The economic impact of the gastronomic diplomacy doubled the trade balance between Peru and Honduras in a period of 20 months and led to the subsequent signing of the bilateral FTA.

These are among the general activities that lead to a successful country branding achievements based on cuisine and culture.

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