As Peru becomes ever more associated with gastronomy, so too does the now-established gastronomic fair of Lima grow ever larger. This year, despite moving to a far larger venue in the centre of Lima, the second fair of its kind was enveloped by hundreds of thousands of attendees – with many ending up disappointed and unable to get hold of tickets.
What’s all the fuss about?
Well, Peruvian food was all but unknown to the world a decade ago, but this has begun to change in recent years. In 2004 an article appeared in The Economist. “Peru can lay claim to one of the world’s dozen or so great cuisines”. Peruvians, apparently oblivious until now that they were regularly eating one of these great cuisines began to realise that they had yet another world wonder to market. Later, in 2006 at the Madrid Fusion Fourth International Summit of Gastronomy, widely regarded as the most important such meeting of industry experts in the world, PromPerú – the Government funded tourism and exportation promoter – turned up to show off Peruvian cuisine. It took top chefs’, gastronomy critics’ and journalists’ breath away, and Lima in particular was declared the “Gastronomic Capital of the Americas”.
Since 2006, Peruvians have learned to take great pride in their cuisine. As the BBC’s Dan Collyns explains, “Rich or poor, Peruvians pride themselves on eating well. Fast food is frowned upon and a poorly-prepared platter is seldom tolerated”. Even in the cheapest most low-key of local restaurants, great care is taken from the selection of the freshest produce to the most attractive and thought-out presentation. Whether you are a customer paying $2 or $15 for your meal, no matter what your socio-economic level, you demand and expect your food to be plentiful, tasty and attractive.
It is this attitude to food that Peru is now exploiting – another of its undervalued gems that would have taken the world by storm decades ago if Peruvians weren’t so stubbornly laid-back and self depreciating in roughly equal amounts. Part of the push to catch up with the other “world’s great cuisines”, from Italian to Japanese, Peru embarked, through the efforts of PromPeru and APEGA (Sociedad Peruana de Gastronomía), on a quest to create a food fair of international quality and prestige.
The first, last year‘s, was such a resounding success, attended by Lima’s and some of the region’s best restaurants and cult chefs, that the second, more than 5 times the size, had to be held in a larger venue, the Parque de la Exposicion. Unfortunately, attendance was so impressive, that many were unable to get hold of tickets. From those in the industry hoping to see presentations by Peruvian chefs and chefs from around the world, to those that were hoping to try some of the country’s most famous national dishes from the best restaurants at a cut down price, many were disappointed. At this rate, I am sure, Madrid’s famous fair will be out done if not next year then the year after.
International chefs in attendance:
Andoni Luis Aduriz, Joan Roca, Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, Alex Atala, Dolly Irigoyen, Oswaldo Gross, Patricia Quintana, Jaime Renedo, Ricardo Sanz
Peruvian chefs in attendance:
Christian Bravo, Toshiro Konishi, Hajime Kasuga, James Berckemeyer, Jaime Pesaque, Rafael Piqueras, Gastón Acurio, Astrid Gutsche, Herve Gallidie, Roger Arakaki, José del Castillo, Israel Laura, Virgilio Martínez, Diego Muñoz, Rafael Osterling, Coque Ossio, Mitsuharu Tsumura, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Flavio Solórzano, Ivan Kisic, Marilu Madueño, Yakir Sato, Héctor Solís
Almost 100 of Peru’s best restaurants attended representing the regional dishes of the nation’s dozens of distinct climatic zones each with its own unique ingredients to be taken advantage of.
Also represented were the ethnic foods of Peru’s dozens of immigrant communities and their gradual fusions with local ingredients and tastes.
From the poshest restaurants to the most popular local haunts, all were here to be enjoyed at prices everyone could afford – each of them worthy of a blog post here (in fact, some of them have been featured… Sonia, El Veridico de Fidel, Curich, Queirolo, etc.)
Some 300,000 people are thought to have attended the event that took place between the 24th and 27th of September. No doubt next year’s event will surpass that by a long way.