Photo Credit: FG Trade
3 Afro-Latino Dishes From Peruvian Culture You Should Try ASAP
African culture has given color, flavor and creativity to Peruvian cuisine, while enriching several popular Afro-Latino dishes.
Brought during the Spanish colonization in Peru in the 16th century, enslaved Africans were taken to Peru’s Pacific coast to work on sugar plantations, cultivate rice, pick cotton, and mine guano. They left a significant cultural and gastronomic legacy on the country, which continues to be built today.
There are said to be over 830,000 Black people (3.6% of Peruvian population) in the country, according to the 2017 Peruvian Census.
To honor this, Afro-Peruvian Culture Day was established on June 4. On this date, popular Afro-Latino dishes— originally prepared by Afro-Peruvians— are made to honor the culture and legacy of the enslaved who first cooked them.
These are the main three dishes that are featured on the holiday.
Anticucho is one of the Afro-Latino dishes initially prepared with llama meat, then seasoned with herbs and chili pepper. With the arrival of the Spaniards, llama meat was replaced by beef and other spices were added, such as garlic and wine. Enslaved Africans transformed this recipe and made it their main dish.
According to some historians, they prepared viscera, because they had to eat the remains of the meat the Spaniards discarded. They created their own anticucho with ox heart. They macerated it with vinegar and other flavorings, then they were skewered on toothpicks for cooking.
Tacu tacu is another dish with strong Afro-Peruvian roots. It was at coastal haciendas that enslaved Africans began preparing some of Peru’s first Criollo dishes, using ingredients like rice, onions, and limes that had been introduced into Spain’s colonial foodways.
The women creatively combined leftovers or discarded foods, by frying rice in lard and mixing it with a stew of local canary beans over a wood fire. Over the centuries, this simple dish became popular among Lima’s families.
Carapulcra is a hearty stew made of dried potatoes, pork, wine, a dash of chocolate, and Peruvian peppers known as ají— along with other complex flavors such as cloves, cinnamon, onions and garlic.
The history of this Afro-Latino dish is linked to the mixture of cultures. Pepper and peanuts, among other Native American products in the pre-Hispanic Andes, became very popular in Africa from the colonial trade. The men and women brought the ingredients to Peru through replicated dishes they ate in Africa before they get to the Americas.