When Spanish explorers and later conquistadors met with the indigenous culture of Tahuantinsuyo, better known as the Inca Empire, they brought more than religion, architecture, urban development, militarism, and language to Peru. The Spanish Crown also brought a gastronomic tradition that can be appreciated to this very day in the diverse Peruvian cuisine.
The conquistadors found that the Peruvian food of the Incas was very rich in terms of ingredients and heartiness; they were particularly impressed by the orderly harvest of tubers and grains. In those times, Spanish cuisine had already gone through its fusion phase after being ruled by Moors for more than five centuries; as such, conquistadors introduced herbs such as cilantro, cumin, parsley, and oregano. They also brought expertise growing sugar cane, which sparked a bakery industry in the South American country.
Some Peruvian cuisine dishes that have a clear connection with gastronomy from the Iberian Peninsula include:
* Seafood paella: This elaborate recipe was a perfect match since the Spanish were quite pleased with the abundance of marine species in the Pacific Ocean.
* Chicken and chorizo paella: The best part of paella is not so much the seafood as much as the seasonings and methodical preparation. Peruvians who live far from the coast can be credited with creating this delicious variation.
* Causa, Huancaína and Ají de Gallina: The addictive creamy sauces that accompany these dishes are inspired by the Andalusian and Moorish recipes used to make a hearty and spicy soup that included fresh peppers, nuts, day-old bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and black olives.
* Tamales: Even though the Incas grew corn, their cornmeal preparations did not include tamales, which were brought by conquistadors who had already met with the Aztec and Mayan people. Tamales were a huge hit among Incas.
The best way to learn more about the influence of Spanish gastronomy on Peruvian cuisine is to visit La Costanera Restaurant. Located in Half Moon Bay, this Peruvian restaurant has a few dishes that you should enjoy to expand your knowledge of culinary history.