US Expat Barbara Drake sums up the madness surrounding the sweet Italian treat known in Peru as panetón. By my conservative estimate, the average Peruvian eats 2.5 metric tonnes of panettone each Christmas season. Well, that might not be entirely accurate, but it sure looks like it to the casual observer. How this affects Peru’s miraculous weight-loss power, I’m not sure.
It is December in Lima; therefore, Christmas is coming; therefore, the city is being overrun by armies of panettone boxes.
You may wonder what this Milanese sweet bread is doing in Peru, which does not have a large Italian population.
Don’t ask. It’s Peru. Many decades ago, the dessert bread became coupled in the Peruvian imagination with Christmas festivities, and eating gobs of panettone became what one did at Navidad.
(Actually, the custom was introduced by Antonio D’Onofrio, the son of immigrants from Caserta, Italy, who licensed the Milanese recipe and packaging and proceeded to build a baking and ice cream empire in Peru, according to Wikipedia.)
Peru isn’t the only South American country where people eat panettone at Christmast time. Brazil and Bolivia, for instance, are big panettone consumers.
But I don’t think there you’ll find supermarket shelves stacked to the ceiling with panettone boxes, or young saleswomen (impulsadoras) dressed up in the colors of panettone boxes, or business owners standing on the checkout line with two carts full of panettone for their employees, as I’ve seen in Peru this year and last Xmas.
Peru is Panettone Central, S.A.