Monday, July 19, 2010
Veganism in Peru
Peruvian cuisine is one of the world's most intricate and multicultural. Spanning coastal deserts, lush rainforests, and high altitude mountain chains, Peru's food culture is shaped as much by its landscape as it is by the huge variety of cultures and nationalities that have called Peru home over the last millenia. Indigenous Incan recipes blend seamlessly with the flavors of the colonial powers - Italy, Portugal, and most importantly, Spain. Add to this the overwhelming Asian influence brought by immigrants from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and you have one of the most dynamic food scenes anywhere in the world.
Vegetarianism is not huge in Peru - the coastal areas are inundated with every type of seafood imaginable, while the Andean plateau subsists mostly on a diet of meat (cuy, or guinea pig, and alpaca are among the favorites) and potatoes. Potatoes play a huge part in Peruvian recipes, finding their way onto almost every plate. Peru is the ancestral home of the potato and produces over 1,000 different varieties of the starchy tuber. Similar vegetables, such as yucca and sweet potato, also are quite common in Peruvian cuisine, along with a wide variety of corn, root vegetables, and grains, such as quinoa.
While most Peruvian recipes are not vegetarian by nature, we have attempted to make vegetarian Peru's most popular meat-based recipes, while providing a thorough exposition of the best veggie dishes Peru has to offer. The flavors used in Peruvian food are still ever present, combining traditional Latin American flavors such as lime, cilantro, garlic, and cumin with the flavors of Italy and Asia. A perfect example is one of Peru's favorite meals, Lomo Saltado, which is flavored with soy sauce, lime, pisco (a local grape liquor), balsamic vinegar, and Peru's most ubiquitous ingredient,aji amarillo, a chili paste made from an indigenous variety of spicy yellow pepper