What It Means To Be Peruvian

What defines a culture? Is it the people? Their food? Their music? Those are some of the questions explored by the new documentary showcasing Peru’s identity to the world. Or in this case, to the city of Peru in Nebraska, where, as the narrator of the documentary claims, the townspeople are Peruvian, but they don’t know what it means to be Peruvian.

The concept is simple, bring a group of ambassadors — chefs, musicians, dancers, surfers, and actors — to a small town, and, intervention style, show the locals what it’s like to be Peruvian. Despite the language barrier, everyone understands food, music, and dance, and it is both humorous and touching to witness their interactions.

Throughout the documentary, the ambassadors read the locals their rights as Peruvians, such as “You are from Peru, you have the right to eat delicious food!” — and everyone proceeds to taste Pisco Sours, ceviches, anticuchos, papa rellena, ocopa, picarones and many other dishes.

One of my favorite scenes was the blessing of Mother Earth before cooking the Pachamanca, a traditional dish of meat and potatoes buried in the earth and slow cooked with hot stones. I also really liked the image juxtaposing a cowboy and an Afro-Peruvian musician playing the cajon drum — a symbol of two worlds, coexisting and celebrating for the first time.

The documentary ends with a call to action for Peruvians, which I took to heart — we are all ambassadors of our culture, and it’s our mission to share it with the world. This made me think a lot about Pisco Trail and my mission. It is evolving, but for now I leave you with this:

As an ambassador for Peru’s food culture, my mission is to inspire individuals, families, and communities to discover Peruvian dishes in the streets of San Francisco, to expand their knowledge of Peru’s multicultural food history, and to empower them to cook Peruvian food in their own homes.

after all, you have the right to eat delicious Peruvian food!