Many San Franciscans are probably thinking about chocolate, flowers, or romantic dinners for two on Valentine’s Day. But what about the brokenhearted? According to the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, there exists a Peruvian recipe to cure a broken heart.
I had the pleasure of meeting Vargas Llosa at a book reading, many years before he won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature. And when he finally received the award, tears welled in my eyes. He had made Peruvians proud, and through his stories, gave an entire nation a voice.
In his novel Lituma en los Andes, the main character is brokenhearted and in the following passage his friend claims that eating these Peruvian dishes in one day is the cure:
That is just the beginning. Next is Aji de Gallina with white rice and Seco de Cabrito. And to finish the afternoon, Mazamorra Morada and Turron de Doña Pepa. By the time you are eating the Seco, you will have forgotten about her forever.
As I read the list of dishes they savored, I was moved by the beautiful progression of the food, from corn to beef heart, to sweet potatoes. Then a seafood and citrus cleanser followed by stuffed peppers, visually similar in shape and color to a heart. Then back to the sea and to the earthy potatoes, which introduce the creamy and nourishing stews. The sweet touch of purple corn and anise complete the healing.
So now, if you find yourself brokenhearted on Valentines Day, all you need to do is have some Peruvian food to heal your heart. That, and a perhaps a Pisco cocktail or two to lift the spirit.