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  • Writer's pictureThe Linguistic Foodie

Flavors of Peru | Los sabores del Perú: Arroz Chaufa, Ceviche, & Picarones

Peru, known for la maravilla del mundo Machu Picchu, also has a surprising mix of cultures and ethnicities which are symbolized in food.

Arroz Chaufa is a Peruvian staple created from the influx of Chinese immigrants to Peru. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Chinese immigrants came to Peru from China's Guandong province. As a result, a new cuisine was born! Chifa, the

word that represents Peruvian-Chinese dishes, is now some of the most popular food in Peru. Arguably the most popular Chifa dish is Arroz Chaufa, Peru's take on Chinese fried rice. Arroz means rice in Spanish and Chaufa comes form the Cantonese word 炒飯 meaning fried rice. Arroz Chafa is very similar to Chinese fried rice, made with white rice, scallions, soy sauce, fried eggs, and meat, although many variations exist.


Ceviche [seˈβitʃe], a Peruvian staple, developed from the Indegenous peoples of Peru. It is said to have originated in the pre-Hispanic Moche, a civilization on the coasts of Peru. To make their ceviche, the Moche used a fermented juice made from local banana and passionfruit. The Incas, on the other hand, marinated their fish with chicha, an Andean fermented beverage. Ceviche is a dish of raw fish cured with citrus juices, spiced with h ají, chili peppers and mixed with julienned red onions, salt, and coriander. There are two theories of where the word ceviche came from. The first theory is that it came from the word siwichi, which is the Quechua word for fresh fish. Quechua one of the most spoken indegenous langauges of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia--it was the language of the Incas. This seems like the most obvious theory to me. The other theory is that it came from the Spanish word escabeche, which came from the Mozarabic word izkebêch which came from the Andalusian Arabic word assukkabáǧ which came from the Classical Arabic word sakbāj سكباج (meaning meat cooked in vinegar) which came from the the Persian word sekbā سکبا (a soup made with meat and vinegar)! SO interesting! I am a linguistic nerd :) Anyway, Peru has a lot of influence from Japanese immigrants who have added their own methods and flavors. Today, many Ceviche shops are run by Japanese-Peruvians as ceviche is similar to Japanese dishes like sashimi.

Picarones are a desert that is like a donut toped with syrup. These Picarones are sold on the streets of Lima. These donuts date back to the colonial times, where the Spanish had established rule in the territory that is now Peru. Similar to buñuelos, a type of donut brought from the Spanish Conquistadors, Picarones are made of squash and sweet potato and are topped with a syrup called chancaca. Chancaca is a Peruvian, Bolivian, and Chilean warm syrup made from sugar cane and flavored with orange peel and cinnamon.


I hope you enjoyed learning about the diverse cultures and languages of Peru through Peru's diverse delicious food items! These three food items date to three different time periods (post spanish, spanish, indigenous pre spanish) and represent three cultures present in Peru (Chinese, Indigenous, and Spanish). The top two languages in Peru are Spanish and Quechua (the language of the Incas). Quechua, although spoken by many, is still endangered and under the threat of Spanish. However, there are numerous other indigenous langauges living in Peru, many of them endangered such as Wachipuri and Kukama. Learn more here: https://festival.si.edu/blog/2015/saving-perus-endangered-languages/. 40 years ago, half of Peru's population spoke a native langauge. Now, its only 13% and that number continues to decline. Learn more about Peru's 17 endangered languages here (37 have already died :( ) https://festival.si.edu/blog/2015/saving-perus-endangered-languages/. Help to preserve the linguistic diversity of the world and of Peru!


tupananchiskama! (Goodbye in Quechua)


-The Linguistic Foodie :)

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