Recognized as part of the cultural heritage of Peru and probably soon as part of the intangible heritage of humanity, the fame of Peruvian cooking continues to increase. It has crossed Peru’s borders thanks to the visionaries who have promoted it. Gaston Acurio is inseparable from this phenomenon and talks to us with the authority of a master in the subject.
How does Peruvian cuisine differ from others?
Its unique biodiversity, its multicultural nature, and its variety.
Why should we call Lima the gastronomic capital of America?
We are not claiming the title ourselves. The whole world says so. For us, this is more like a path than a confirmation. But we can say that it is well founded, we have great cuisine, fine produce, great chefs, unique culinary concepts and top people; our own understanding, diners who are proud of their cuisine, cookery schools all over the city, etc. Nevertheless, we still have a great deal to do.
What do we have to do keep that title?
Restore the Bay of Lima for artisanal fishing around its islands, ensure that our rivers and valleys are sources of life, flavor and beauty; train young people in the world of service,helping to banish undernourishment once and for all. help to formalize street food sellers in order to guarantee good hygiene and create a network of attractive district markets; In the end this is all part of the process: Lima,gastronomic capital of America as a brand that complements the city of Lima as a tourist destination. That’s what we’re doing.
What exactly is Mistura? ¿How did the fair start and how has it evolved since the first one?
One day, in the workshop with my partner Irzio Pinasco, we were saying that it was time to create a fair to celebrate everything that we who are part of Peruvian gastronomy were doing: producers, cooks,consumers, etc. The first was “Perú Mucho Gusto”, which attracted 40,000 people.Then, with the aid of the Apega team and the Peruvian Gastronomy Society it became Mistura and now Apega runs Mistura and attracts 400,000 people. It’s a beautiful fair,the result of collaboration between chefs,businesses and the authorities; in which we celebrate biodiversity, cultural diversity regardless of race, origin or economic status.
What does Mistura offer to foreign tourists?
An opportunity to discover a magic world of cooking, nature, history, culture, celebration, flavors, cooks and products; but above all,somewhere where everyone is welcome. It’s like a culinary Woodstock every year.
What role does food play in a culture?
Cooking is love, memories, history, culture, it is feeling, economics, promotion and pride; many things, in the end. Cuisine is culture,pure and simple.Today, your restaurants Astrid & Gastón, La Mar and Tanta can be found in many large cities all over the world.
How do foreign palates react to Peruvian cooking? ¿What do they find that is different?¿ What do they like most?
In this different world everything appears to be different. Peruvian cooking has a repertoire that adapts well to each country. Cebiche, causa, tiradito, anticuchos are dishes that cause a great first impression,as does pisco sour; the rest may need some reflection in order to understand the loves and loathings of each country.
What do you think Peru should do to compete with such omnipresent cuisines as Chinese and Italian?
Keep building on what we have already achieved: reliable and connected production chains and units, promotion of Peruvian produce in the rest of the world, Peruvian products that can be sold around the globe,open small, medium-sized or large and beautiful Peruvian restaurants throughout the world; dream that Peruvian chili will be the sauce of tomorrow.
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The interview previously appeared on Ultimate Journeys Peru
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