Since realizing how much we owe to them, I have been looking for anything and everything to do with Peruvian cuisine. With so many ingredients difficult to find, I sometimes have to be content to read the food rather than make it. In Food Fit For The Gods for Saveur magazine, Gabriella de Ferrari describes the way recipes were passed (or not) among family and friends:
When my mother came to Peru, no Peruvian cookbook of any significance existed. Instead, recipes were passed from mother to daughter—or, like beauty secrets, were exchanged cautiously by word of mouth, as symbols of friendship. I remember that one of my classmates got into trouble because she revealed to me her mother’s special method of preparing mazamorra, a dessert made of fruit and purple corn.
The almost sacred nature of food in Peruvian culture is fascinating, and De Ferrari also meets the men and women conserving their traditions. Describing Josie Sison Porras de De la Guerra, the “grand dame of Peruvian cuisine”, she writes:
A handsome, statuesque woman of boundless energy, De la Guerra traces her roots to the first Peruvian Indian princess to marry a noble Spaniard. It was a marriage immortalized by a famous painting in the Church of La Compañia de Jesús at Cuzco, southeast of Lima. The same painting also provides a detailed visual record of both the food products brought by the Spaniards to Peru and those that Peru offered to Europe in return. “See all that we gave the world,” says De la Guerra, employing the reverential tone that Peruvians often assume when they speak about food, as she points to the image of a pineapple in the Cuzco painting.
Valuing what they have, they know how to guard it.