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An introduction to Peruvian Cuisine

Posted Nov 17 2012 11:53am
When I was in primary school our headmaster, in his yearly cycle of morning service, used to talk about Peru. We learnt about Machu Picchu, the Incas, and we listened to pan pipe music. Its funny, amongst my friends you can immediately recognise who went to the same primary school when peru is mentioned, as we all have a desire to walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, obviously a seed planted within us at an early age. I know for a fact that my old headmaster, now retired, has fulfilled his lifelong ambition and has been to Peru a few times by now. Machu Picchu is still a dream of mine: one I hope to fulfill sooner rather than later. Today's post is exploring what the Peruvians eat, something that obviously combines two interests of mine!
What does life insurance have to do with Peruvian food? The answer, quite simply, is healthy eating.  So what does healthy eating have to do with your life insurance policy, you may well ask?  Well, both you and your life insurance provider want you to be around for some time to come.  On a personal level, the motivation for longevity is obvious, while outliving your life insurance policy has understandable benefits for the provider.  Enter the next big thing in international food culture, the healthy cuisine of Peru, which offers a beguiling blend of simple but effective culinary techniques and slightly spicy flavours for making the most of fresh produce.  Who said that eating wholesome ingredients had to be a chore?

Peruvian cuisine has been called the original fusion food, and in a country with a five hundred year long history of immigration it is not hard to understand why.  First the Spanish Conquistadors brought their culinary ideas to bear on the local produce, followed by the input, at various times in history, of African, Chinese and Japanese cooking techniques, not to mention the recent influence of French and Italian gastronomy.  

The primary ingredients that form the raw materials of Peruvian cooking include one of the most famous exports from the New World, potatoes (of which some 4000 varieties are currently grown in Peru).  Another of the famous Peruvian foods is the super healthy vegetarian staple quinoa, which is the seed from the Chenopodium quinoa plant, a native of the Andes.  In cooking, quinoa is prepared like a whole grain (for more information on quinoa, try looking here: ).

Avocado is another staple of Peruvian cuisine which is rich in beneficial nutrients.  As well as providing some 18 essential amino acids - in a much more bio-available form than steak – avocados also offer beneficial fats that boost levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL (which can help prevent diabetes).  Avocados also pack loads of carotenoids, which among other benefits promote eye health and the immune system, as well as fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease.

Ceviche is a classic Peruvian dish that demonstrates the marriage of fresh and healthy food with simple and effective flavour combinations and cooking techniques.  Ceviche also displays those international culinary influences, with a distinct nod to Japanese sushi and staples of the Mediterranean diet.  And the recipe?  Raw fish or other seafood marinated lime or lemon juice, along with olive oil and other spices.  

The secret of Peruvian cuisine is making the most of the wonderful produce found in the country - and of course these days, in the local supermarket – by simply preparing it at its freshest.  This means making the effort to source the best ingredients available, and then avoiding the fridge, and eating what you have bought on the day – and thanks to the trendy status currently enjoyed by Peruvian food, you’ll find plenty of recipes detailing just what to do with your purchases through a quick search online.     

When I do finally make it over to Peru, it sounds like I will be eating lots of good healthy food. Avocados and quinoa? I'm in! Look good to you?

Do you have a place you've wanted to visit since a child? Except for wanting to go to Peru due to being  brainwashed at school, another place I've always wanted to go is India: The Little Princess was my favourite film! 

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