Last month, before Peruvian independence day, Teresa Izquierdo passed away, and an entire country mourned the loss of one of its greatest and humblest cooks. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Teresa, her cooking has made a wonderful impression on me. And I feel that I’ve gotten to learn a little bit about her magic by recreating the traditional Afro-Peruvian desserts she loved to cook.
Intrigued by her recipes in the Larousse of Peruvian Desserts, my first glimpse into her world was through the creamy, sweet, and light Suspiro Limeño and the Little Merengue cookies. Then, I imagined her kneading some dough to make the Rosquitas pastry. Or adding quinoa to the Caramel Custard to give it that special Peruvian touch, and enjoying scrapping the bottom of the pot to get to the sweetest bits of the Frejol Colado black bean pudding.
In the interviews she gave, she insisted in being called a cook and not a chef. And in videos and photographs, her smile conveyed a profound joy and love for cooking. I admire that she talked about desserts of yesteryear and the importance of keeping old traditions alive. And I am very grateful that her recipes have inspired me to rediscover my love for desserts, so that now I can cook them and share them with others.
Thank you Teresa for sharing the beauty of your Afro-Peruvian soul through food.