Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of cooking some of my favorite dishes at the first Peruvian Tasting Night at 18 Reasons for a gastronomical tour of Peruvian cuisine. I was thrilled that the event sold out weeks in advance, and it was a wonderful opportunity to prepare some of the recipes from Pisco Trail for an audience excited to learn more about Peru and the cultures from all over the world that have influenced its cuisine.
Starting with the Incas, Peruvian cuisine is a true fusion of cultures from Spain, Japan, Africa, and China — and to represent that fusion, the menu I put together included:
With the help of the volunteers, and the attendees themselves, we prepared Pisco Sour cocktails using San Francisco’s own Campo de Encanto Pisco and started the evening with a toast to Peruvian food. Then we cooked a refreshing Japanese style Ceviche Nikkei on the spot using local California halibut and local hot peppers. Throughout, I was delighted to answer questions about the ingredients and preparation as the attendees took down some notes.
The Afro-Peruvian beans and rice Tacu Tacu & Squid was also a big hit, but as always, I saved the best for last — Lomo Saltado, the spicy and savory Chinese Peruvian beef-stir fry with French fries. When I was cooking the Lomo Saltado in the kitchen, one of the curious attendees got up from the dinner table to watch me prepare it, eager to ask questions and learn the secret about its preparation.
Everyone was already having dessert when I explained how the Suspiro Limeño got its name — sweet and light, like a woman’s sigh, declared a poet. Besides cooking and sharing Peruvian food, I really loved telling the history behind each dish. I ended the evening with one of my favorite stories about cooking pots, and I was proud to be an ambassador for Peruvian cuisine in such a wonderful community.
Many thanks to 18 Reasons for making this tasting possible, to the organizer, volunteers, and all the attendees who made the evening so special and memorable — I hope you have been inspired to cook Peruvian food at home!