My grandfather died before he ever got to see Paris, but he spoke in awe of La Ciudad de las Luces — The City of Lights — as it if were a place from a magical realism novel by Mario Vargas Llosa. Lately, I have been thinking about Paris too, specially as it relates to food and it’s connection to Peru.
Peru’s independence was in many ways inspired by the French revolution and its principles of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. By 1857, over 20,000 europeans were living in Lima and they brought with them food and cooking techniques that were quickly integrated into Peruvian cuisine. For example, Aji de Gallina, one of Peru’s most emblematic of dishes, originated from a Medieval dish known as blancmange in France.
For inspiration, I enjoy visiting Omnivore Books to find food memoirs, and on a recent visit, I picked up a few to add to my library. Where did they all take place? Paris. As I am sure that it’s no coincidence that my favorite Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, has lived in Paris and Gaston Acurio, the Peruvian chef, studied at Le Cordon Bleu.
Gaston Acurio’s story in particular is very revolutionary to me. He was in Madrid studying law, but defied his parents and moved to Paris to follow his passion and study cooking. Now, his restaurant Astrid & Gaston is No. 14 in the world, and he travels around the globe as an ambassador for Peruvian cuisine.
What attracted so many Peruvians including my grandfather, Vargas Llosa, and Gaston Acurio to Paris? There is only one way to find out. Je désir de visiter Paris.