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Background of Peruvian gastronomy and its perspectives: an assessment of its current growth

A Correction to this article was published on 15 January 2024

This article has been updated

Abstract

Peruvian gastronomy is continuously expanding throughout the world, captivating various regions and major cities with its flavors, textures, colors, and culinary excellence. The objective of this research is to describe the background of Peruvian gastronomy and its perspectives, in order to assess its current growth. A bibliographic and exploratory analysis was conducted, delving into its significance throughout history. The culinary background was delineated from the Pre-Inca, Inca, Colonial, Republican eras, up to the present day. Additionally, the perspectives from the government, private sector, and citizens were explored to evaluate the current status achieved worldwide. Given the importance of the current position held by Peruvian gastronomy, this study holds international relevance in assessing our legacy and paying tribute to the individuals from the past, present, and future whose strategic work enables the expansion of the Peruvian gastronomy. It is concluded that Peruvians must continue striving for continuous improvement in the key links of our gastronomy’s production chain.

Introduction

Throughout the course of humanity, the need for sustenance is an essential fact that has always been present in all cultures around the world. The way of nourishing oneself has given rise to a historical process that evolved from raw to cooked food, establishing customs, cultures, and methods of preparation and sharing. In this sense, Fusté-Forné [1], states that “Gastronomy is a territorial symbol, a reflection of both the culture and the nature that define us as human beings with a connection to a specific place.”

The dietary customs of Peru have ancient origins, manifesting since the emergence of the first human groups in the current territory. Over time, ancient Peruvians domesticated numerous foods that have endured until today, becoming part of the symbiosis of flavor combinations that characterize the cuisines of many cultures worldwide. These include foods such as potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peanuts, beans, sweet potatoes, and many more [2]. Therefore, Valderrama [3] asserts that the contribution of Peruvian gastronomy goes beyond the economic aspect and significantly impacts the revaluation of our culture. Cuisine has become a factor in reaffirming Peruvian identity, revaluing regional cuisines, and, above all, showcasing the resources present in our extensive biodiversity of products.

The term Gastronomy derives from the Greek words “gaster” or “gastros,” meaning stomach, and “nomos,” meaning treatise. Gastronomy encompasses knowledge and techniques related to food, nutrition, beverages, their preparation, and service. Furthermore, gastronomy comprises a set of techniques, processes, and methods that contribute to the creation of exquisite dishes, innovative recipes, and food in general, satisfying the basic needs of human beings [4].

According to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), gastronomy is defined as the art of preparing a good meal; the love for good eating; and the set of dishes and culinary customs specific to a certain place [5]. Additionally, Larousse Gastronomique defines gastronomy as the art of good eating [6]. In other words, gastronomy encompasses knowledge, techniques, processes, and activities developed in living environments, which have a history and have evolved and transcended from generation to generation. Within this framework, Peruvian gastronomy is shaped and strengthened by all the cuisines that exist throughout the country, as well as the Peruvian biodiversity that provides the foundation for a wealth of recipes, techniques, and flavors. In this particular context, Delgado [7] affirms that the act of cooking is not only a cultural, social, and familial practice but also a timeless ancestral experience that unifies all. Peruvians, allowing them to come together, enjoy, and foster a sense of community. It fills us with pride for our homeland, strengthening our sense of identity and our pride as Peruvians.

The culinary diversity found within Peru’s various regions is deeply intertwined with the unique circumstances of each region, and it forms an integral part of the cultural heritage of their respective societies. It serves as a symbol of identity, which is expressed through the cultivation of local ingredients, distinctive dishes, specific preparation techniques, and traditional customs associated with the serving and consumption of food. Essentially, gastronomy encompasses all aspects of our surroundings; it embodies our culture itself and contributes to the advancement of communities, societies, and life in general, whether at the local, regional, national, or global level [1].

The author Guardia [8] emphasizes that Peruvian gastronomy, as intangible cultural heritage, is simultaneously traditional and current. It does not exist as a static, codified entity but thrives within the dynamic practices and social behaviors of diverse groups of people throughout the country. It is transmitted from generation to generation and, more importantly, it evolves and transforms in constant interaction with its social and natural environment and its own evolution over time. The historical background of Peruvian gastronomy is one of its essential components, as its transcendence and relationships among communities that created it are the ones who preserve it throughout history. The most distinctive feature of Peruvian gastronomy is its role as a factor of identity, belonging, and continuity of values, techniques, and social practices related to enjoying food—a set of behaviors and representations that are regarded as unique to the group, community, or natural region.

Today, Peruvian gastronomy has positioned itself in the world due to its excellence, variety, colors, flavors, and textures. Its growth and development have followed a long journey that began with the earliest settlers in Peruvian territories, gradually establishing itself through pre-Inca societies. The Inca civilization left an invaluable legacy that has historically transcended through the Spanish conquest, the emerging republic, and, after two centuries, propelled Peru to its privileged position in the world today. Peruvian gastronomy is considered a social and cultural treasure, part of the cultural, material, and intangible heritage that has been shaped throughout history and continues to emerge from the heart of every Peruvian who has enjoyed it in the past, present, and future.

Furthermore, throughout history, Peruvian gastronomy has been shaped through a fusion of local and indigenous ingredients with those brought by the various cultures that arrived and settled in our country. Added to this is the legacy of our wise ancestors, the biodiversity, and ecosystems of our whole country, enable our country to provide a large amount of foods. This positions Peruvian gastronomy as one of the most diverse in the world, consisting of an extensive variety of distinctive dishes characteristic of each city in the country.

The international recognition achieved by Peruvian gastronomy holds tremendous cultural, social, and financial importance for Peru. It is a tribute to all the heroes of our historical past who left behind a vast pantry of food for future generations in Peru and around the world. It involves a supply chain, production processes, locations, consumers, the internal service chain in a restaurant, and the processes involved in transforming food into recipes or gastronomic options. It also encompasses tourist attention, culinary tourism, innovations, and the development of new sustainable proposals, among many other aspects that are demanded by the new world order.

Moreover, this research is significant as it opens a range of options for further exploration in this field. The factors and events that have occurred throughout Peruvian history form the basis for the growth of Peruvian gastronomy, representing a chain of links that began with our ancestors and continue to shape the actions of individuals, institutions, and the state today. Contemporary gastronomy involves various fields of knowledge that are directly or indirectly related.

In response to the question “What are the antecedents of Peruvian gastronomy?”, it is important to note that this research allows us to address the stages of evolution throughout the history of Peruvian gastronomy, its emergence, and its positioning in the world. Based on this, in order to provide scientific knowledge to all Peruvians and the world in general, the objective of this study was to describe the antecedents of Peruvian gastronomy and its perspectives, in order to assess its current growth. Furthermore, this scientific culture will have a significant contribution in the educational field by providing an approach to the development of knowledge regarding the antecedents of Peruvian gastronomy. Similarly, it will have a social contribution as a symbol of Peruvian identity. In this sense, Custer [9] states that when one sits down to eat in Peru today, we must know that we are savoring the result of a fascinating evolution of food and cultures.

Methodology

A bibliographic, exploratory, qualitative, non-experimental research was carried out. A synthesis of the readings carried out during the documentary research process is presented. In this way, a bibliographic review was made of 14 available printed books and 2 virtual books published on Peruvian gastronomy from the academic world was carried out, from which 8 books were selected. Based on the criterion of focusing on the development of Peruvian gastronomy throughout history. Additionally, opinion articles in specialized magazines, press releases in national and foreign newspapers, and articles from government agencies were reviewed. Furthermore, the search for articles was conducted in Scopus and Google Scholar databases using the keywords “gastronomía” (gastronomy), “historia de la gastronomía” (history of gastronomy), and “identidad cultural” (cultural identity). Exploratory interviews were also conducted in business and personal settings, where is Peruvian gastronomy developing? The most relevant information collected has been used regarding the current development of Peruvian gastronomy. Articles were taken in Spanish and English. Ten articles were considered in the search for this research. On the other hand, an exploratory interview was carried out, which was formulated from a personal point of view, where the question was asked: When do you consider that the gastronomic boom in Peru began? From the information collected, the most relevant aspects of the current development of Peruvian gastronomy were used. individuals were asked, “When do you consider the gastronomic boom in Peru began?” From the information collected, the most relevant aspects of the current development of Peruvian gastronomy were used (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Fig. 1
figure 1

Flow of the study selection used to describe the outlined approach to the background of Peruvian gastronomy and its perspectives. Background of Peruvian gastronomy over time

Fig. 2
figure 2

Taken from the book “La Salud y los Dioses”

Representations of the Moche Culture. They are huacos that represent the ancestral foods that the Moches cultivated in ancient Peru. a Potatoes is a valuable food that the ancient Peruvians bequeathed to us. Today Peru cultivates more than 3500 varieties of potatoes in the different geographical regions. b Likewise, the purple corn in its most splendid representation is one of the foods that only grows in Peru and has become a symbol of tradition and Peruvianness.

Fig. 3
figure 3

Taken from the book “La Salud y los Dioses”

Representations of the Moche Culture. a This beautiful ceramic that represents corn, one of the main cereal bases of the food in ancient Peru. b Also the ceramic of the sweet potato takes us to the ancestral tables and its great journey through time, continuing today present in the table of the Peruvians and in the table of many homes in the world.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Taken from the book “La Salud y los Dioses”

Representations of the Moche Culture. a These ceramics illustrate us with a northern pumpkin, in its classic form as it is still found in the markets of Peru. And also b the ceramic of a woman holding in her hands the bunches of beans and bunches of chili, one of the condiments that is still used in Peru. These two foods are one of the culinary bases that transcends until today enriching our variety of Peruvian food that is enjoyed in the world.

Fig. 5
figure 5

Taken from the book “La Salud y los Dioses”

Masterful representation of the ceramic artists of the Mochica Culture. a A basket full of peanut berries that represented status in the nobility of the people of ancient Peru. b Seafood is also present as the basis of their protein diet. A robust fish of the grouper type can be seen in this huaco. It is one of the biological resources of the Peruvian biodiversity.

Fig. 6
figure 6

Taken from the book “La Salud y los Dioses”

Huacos in the fine art of the Mochica Culture that represent the fruits that have originated since the dawn of ancient Peru. They are: a the juicy cucumber and the creamy lucuma, which were printed on these ceramics. And today they are part of the biodiversity of the foods that are cultivated in Peru. The cucumber is an ingredient in various salads and b the lucuma has multiple uses ranging from a fleshy fruit to a dessert filling.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Taken from the book “Primicias de cocina peruana” by Hinostroza, 2006, page 74

During the beginnings of the Republic of Peru, the new rulers and the dominant society of those times opted to be in the fashion that reigned in the world. Eating French style was the latest fashion in that high society. Therefore, all banquets served until after the 1900s were French style. This Fig. 7 shows a French-style menu served in 1871, at a meeting in the city of Mollendo, Arequipa. Peru. Note. Details of the buffet dinner for the inauguration of the Mollendo—Arequipa railway.

Fig. 8
figure 8

Timeline of the history of Peruvian gastronomy

Background of Peruvian gastronomy

Pre-Inca stage

Peruvian gastronomy has one of the cuisines with the most variety and exquisiteness, since it has been gestating along the history, thanks to the heritage of our ancestors that have left one of the most valuable legacies for human kind. Thus, Cabieses [10], in “El Legado de Imay Maman,” refers that by being the eldest son, he has to comply with the commands of his father Icci Wiracocha, who tells him to travel across the Andes and the mountains of all around the world and name all the trees and plants and flowers and fruits, and establish in what season they should bloom and bear fruit. The other son, called Tocapu, had to do the same in the plains and valleys of the coast, as it was his mission.

These mythological characters take us to the past and show us a historical panorama of them, extraordinary individuals who devoted themselves greatly to the study of plants. For that, today, when we sit at a restaurant, we can find a great number of gastronomic preparations with multiple varieties of foods such as potatoes, ollucos, quinoa, beans, different types of corn, sweet potatoes, various types of squash, zapallo loche, cassava, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, peanuts, papayas, guavas, pacay, tumbos, yacon, and many more. We would not be able to enjoy them if there were not endless and careful research carried out by indigenous botanists in the boom of the Andean civilizations. In addition, all the grains, tubers, fruits, and herbs were considered delicious preparations in the Pre-Columbian Peruvian feasts, which have been personified in the pottery vessels of different cultures across Peru.

Many studies refer that the origin of agriculture started in the American continent 9000 years ago, when the “civilization of plants” are born. That is, plant domestication gives individuals the power of the natural world and frees them from dependency in which they had been living. Thus, the most productive and nutritious foods were selected; these were cereals and grains, inspired in religious rituals to their gods in order to guarantee fertility and abundance [11].

Similarly, Cánepa [2] refers that currently, we have lots of evidence that allow us to establish that primal coastal cultures were the ones who initiated the process of plant domestication, at the end of the Ice Age. Among the oldest evidence is the one found in the “Tres Ventanas” caves, located in Childa, in the southeast of Lima, in which food plants such as potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), olluco (Ullucus tuberosus), and ocas (Oxalis tuberosa) were found. In addition, the plants found in the Guitarrero cave in the region of Ancash were the beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus), chili peppers (capsicum), and also ocas and ollucos. This evidence found in these two places represent the oldest found registered in the country, which allows us to affirm that there existed some type of agriculture in these regions at least since ten thousand years ago. Moreover, in the Paracas bay, in the central coast of Peru, evidence of antique civilizations were found. They lived about 9000 years ago. It was determined that these populations cultivated and used the squash (Cucurbita) and a type of cassava (Manihot esculenta). They also consumed guava (Psidium guayaba), wild tomato (Solanum licopersicum or Licopersicum esculentum), alder seeds (Alnus glutinosa), as well as other fruits, roots, and tubers that were cultivated in the region.

Evidence depicted in pottery of cultivated foods in Pre-Inca Peru

The author Paredes [12] states that through all these ceramics, we know which foods were part of the diet of major cultural groups like the Moche. They delighted in delicious peanuts, chicha (a fermented corn beverage), honey, and sweets combined with sweet potatoes, cassava, and cereals. All of this and much more is perfectly documented in the iconography of Moche ceramics. Likewise, the Moche people were avid consumers of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans from both the Pacific Ocean and river courses and ponds. They made use of marine species such as lobsters, flounders, corvina fish, palometas, grape-eye fish, sardines, silversides, lifes (Trichomycterus nunctulatus), sea turtles, squid, octopus, crabs, white and black shells, sea urchins, langoustines, groupers, bonitos, cojinovas, combers, silver mullet, chita, cabinza grunt, tollo, and guitarfish.

The Moche culture used stoves with cooking fire fueled by firewood from their forests. They also had clay vessels for food preparation, as well as for storage and serving on their tables: bowls, open-mouthed vessels, globular, and ovoid jars. They also used these vessels to prepare, store, and serve their beverages, including various types of chicha, for which they used jars for preparation and storage and pitchers for serving. They ate from vegetable plates, mates (Lagenaria siceraria), and used clay spoons similar to a mussel shell, as seen in their ceramics [12] (page 13).

Regarding Moche dishes, Neotropic cormorant meat was seasoned with ground chili pepper and peanuts and it was served with roasted sweet potatoes. They also roasted this meat with chili pepper and salt and consumed it browned. As for the preparation and consumption of land snails, these were collected during the winter months when mist and fog predominated, moistening hills, slopes, and logs. The preparation for consumption began by sprinkling them with corn, either fresh or dried (previously ground), to make the snails excrete the soil. Then, they were placed in containers with boiling salted water and, after a few minutes, removed to extract the flesh from their shells, making them suitable for consumption. They were often seasoned with ground chili pepper and accompanied by peanuts and chichi [12] (page 15).

Inca period

The Inca Empire had extensive territorial dominion, and as a result, the sovereign and his court enjoyed all the products cultivated throughout the empire. These included corn, beans, lima beans, potatoes, ullucos, oca, mashua, sweet potatoes, cassava, chili peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, peanuts, Amazon nuts, squash, sweet pepino, yacon, quinoa, kiwicha, avocados, cotton, tarwi, carob, cherimoyas, lucumas, and guavas. They also had aromatic herbs like muña, chincho, huacatay, and paico, as well as spices like achiote. Additionally, they had access to deer, guanacos, vizcachas, and a wide range of seafood [13].

During this period, the Inca Empire prioritized, organized, and systematized the development of agriculture centers with terraces constructed at over 3000 m above sea level. All this engineering developed by the Incas allowed us to preserve the foods that have transcended history and now feed humanity. In that regard, Paredes [12] states that the Incas were inheritors and continuers of a long history that dates back more than ten thousand years before them. Therefore, much of what is known—since the sixteenth century—about their food, cuisine, and nutrition is a shared heritage with the preceding cultures, including the Moche. This Inca period is supported by valuable sources and testimonies such as the chronicles (indigenous, mixed-race, and Spanish). Furthermore, Hinostroza (13) states that about 120 years before the arrival of the Spanish, the region had experienced a tremendous agricultural revolution thanks to the techniques brought by the victorious tribes of the Incas, who established a new order.

On the other hand, Delgado [7] mentions the fascinating interest and vocation for research and experimentation in botany held by our ancestors. They always sought to improve species by adapting them to different climates and territories in order to achieve better productivity while enhancing the quality and variety of food. This led them to construct large agricultural complexes that are still preserved today, such as Moray in Cusco, one of the great agricultural experimentation centers of the Inca Empire.

The conquest period

The first encounter between the Spanish conquerors and the Inca Empire has a certain gastronomical feature as it involves the extraordinary Incan beverage, the chicha de jora [14]. However, the Spanish conquest led to the depopulation of Peru, and it destroyed the high-production technology and agriculture performance. Andean foods were replaced by others and were only used in the high Andean regions, and indigenous people fought for the keeping of their customs and traditions [13]. Thus, potatoes never stopped being consumed massively by peasants of the high Andes, as they were inheritors and repositories of millenary knowledge of cultivation, transformation, and preparation. They have not lost their role in the framework of ritual and productive contexts [2].

During the conquest, as reported by Hinostroza [14], the conquerors made use and abuse of all kinds of imported meats such as red meat, lamb, kid, and pork. This means that the table of the conquerors remained that of medieval Spain, with an influence of Arab culture in the cuisine. Additionally, since 1535, the conquerors began cultivating wheat, sugarcane, asparagus, grapes, and radishes. Faced with the problem of food scarcity for the indigenous population, they were forced to also cultivate foreign products such as wheat, sorghum, barley, sugarcane, alfalfa, and they also included the rearing of chickens and cattle, goats, and sheep. Consequently, Spanish cuisine and indigenous cuisine followed parallel paths, ignoring each other and turning their backs on each other, even though both were prepared in the same mansion. The patrons and their court dined in the Spanish style dining rooms, while the servants ate indigenous food. And the indigenous population continued to eat aromatic soups, pachamancas, and drink chicha. They ignored the fried foods introduced by the Spanish. In other words, the ancient Peruvians are the artisans and protagonists of the development of indigenous Peruvian cuisine during this stage of history, as they were the ones who cultivated the fields, raised livestock, and served the masters for three centuries, during which they also created a fusion between the foods brought by the Spanish and those they had always consumed, thus sowing the seeds of the people’s sustenance, which is the fundamental basis of current Peruvian gastronomy.

On the other hand, according to Morales [15], the development of Peruvian gastronomy has had a significant influence from Afro-Peruvian culture, which, in this stage, became the basis of Peruvian creole cuisine, creatively developed from the foods that the Spanish discarded, such as offal, heads, and other food products that the black slaves ingeniously transformed into a creative source for new dishes.

Within this framework, as time passed, culinary mestizaje (mixing) took place in indigenous cuisine, and it was with a dish called carapulcra, made from dried potatoes, peanuts, chili peppers, and jerky or charqui, from the pre-Hispanic era. What defines it as mestizo is the substitution of jerky with pork, and this happened in indigenous cuisine since it was not even known in Spanish cuisine. Additionally, the Spanish seasoning based on oil, garlic, and onions was incorporated into the sofrito. In this way, the new Peruvian gastronomy began to take shape with native products, along with the sofrito of garlic, onion, and oil. Other dishes such as olluquito, huatias, and pachamancas experienced mestizaje in the kitchens of the working people [14].

The Republic period

In the Republican era, as described in reference [14], the newly formed Republic of Peru passed its first law, expelling Spaniards from the national territory, allowing only those who respected the laws of the republic to remain. The ruling class of the free and sovereign Republic of Peru did not adopt indigenous cuisine but rather embraced bourgeois cuisine, which had gained popularity during the French Revolution. Notably, one of the innovations of bourgeois cuisine was the incorporation of sauces. Consequently, dining à la française became the height of fashion, and those who did not adhere to this trend were considered outdated or misios, a Peruvian slang for people without enough money. Additionally, knowledge of French language, at least for reading menus at emerging restaurants, became necessary.

In 1871, during the inauguration of the railway from Mollendo to Arequipa railway, its financier and architect, Henry Meiggs, organized a grand banquet prepared by the “Café des Anglais” in Lima. The following menu offers insights into the French-style dinner served on that occasion:

On the other hand, the influence of French gastronomy in Peru began mostly at the end of the Emancipation. This influence became much more notable in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both in the banquets of the upper classes and in the cookbooks of the time. As a result, terms such as chef, cuisine, buffet, menu, mayonesa, vol au vent, and chantilly were adopted, along with the dissemination and publication of recipes for mousse au chocolat and quiches. We can still find these terms in the current recipe books of Peruvian gastronomy [17].

Italian migration

Between 1840 and 1880, the most significant migration of Italians to Peru occurred, mainly from Liguria (Genoa). They engaged in commerce and introduced new food customs. They settled along the coast, where they introduced the use of fresh legumes and vegetables such as chard, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and basil, in addition to pasta and polenta. With them, national versions of their Italian counterparts emerged, such as the torta genovesa becoming the Swiss chard pie, trippa a la florentina becoming mondonguito a la italiana, ragù becoming tuco, and sopa menestrón incorporating our native products. Pesto also changed pine nuts for pecans and incorporated flavors from our land. Furthermore, pizzas with tomato and mozzarella appeared on the tables [18]. It is estimated that during that time, Italians owned 30% of the Lima orchards that produced legumes and bread-making ingredients [14].

Chinese migration

The first Chinese migration to Peru occurred between 1849 and 1874. They arrived as labor force for the cotton and sugar haciendas on the coast, as well as traders [12]. One significant contribution of Chinese immigrants in Peru is their cuisine, which they have developed and adapted to their new country. This cuisine is known as “chifa” and is a version of Cantonese food with the addition of some Peruvian ingredients. The word “chifa” comes from the combination of the Cantonese terms “chi” and “fan” (饎 飯), which mean “eat” and “rice” respectively. The term emerged around the 1930s among the people of Lima when they heard the Chinese use the term “chifan” to call potential customers to enter the restaurants they managed. Over the years, Chinese restaurants from other regions of China such as Sichuan, Fujian, Shanghai, etc., can also be found. For Chinese people living in Peru, this food from chifas is not considered strictly Chinese but rather adapted to Peruvian taste and palate [18]. As one of the oldest cuisines in the world, Chinese cuisine is medicinal and curative, similar to Inca cuisine, and because of this similarity, it was never viewed with strangeness by our people, who recognized in it the same principles that govern our ancestral cuisine [14].

Japanese migration

The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru in 1889, and over time, more arrived, with an average of 36,000 by 1936. The majority came from the Okinawa, Kumamoto, and Fukushima islands. Despite not having their original ingredients, one variant of their fish and seafood-based cuisine began to spread in restaurants and food stalls in the 1920s [16]. Since the arrival of Japanese migration and throughout this century, Japanese cuisine has left its particular modernity and elegance in the culinary trends of current Peruvian cuisine. In this century of their presence in the country, they have been the silent architects of a true gastronomic revolution (18). Additionally, there are two variations of Japanese cuisine in our country: traditional Japanese cuisine with culinary proposals such as tempura, sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, and yakitori, and the second is called “Nikkei” cuisine, which is made with Peruvian ingredients and uses culinary techniques such as the “salteado,” a type of stir-frying, steaming, and grilling. The Japanese community produces some vegetables and products such as rice pasta, soy sauce and cheese, rice noodles, and some sweets and pastries [16].

Hinostroza [14], states that with the contribution of Italians, Chinese, and Japanese, colonial Peruvian cuisine changed rapidly. This phenomenon occurred with greater emphasis in Lima, which had a vision of looking toward the ocean, being a coastal city. It coincided with the Italian migration that came from the coasts of Genoa, the Chinese from the port of Canton, and the Japanese islanders. It was during this period that a new Peruvian cuisine emerged, enriched with new techniques and processes, including steaming, deep frying for chicharrones, and dishes based on fresh fish and seafood.

Delgado [7], emphasizes that true cuisine did not develop in restaurants or with famous chefs of feudal lords. The true cuisine was created at home, in each of the households of our compatriots, in towns and communities. It has been preserved over time through tradition, passed down from mothers in their kitchens to their children, teaching them culinary techniques and the enjoyment of aromas, flavors, colors, textures, and the secrets of grandmothers. It is a daily pleasure to eat together at home, parents and children, and on weekends or holidays to share with friends and the rest of the family. Furthermore, our gastronomy is sustained by the influence of all the ethnic groups that have settled in our country and have participated in our history. Firstly, by all the pre-Inca cultures such as Paracas, Moche, Chimú, Tiahuanaco, Chavín, and others. Each of them has contributed wisdom and knowledge in many aspects, including agricultural techniques, food preservation, and especially gastronomy. Secondly, by the Spanish influence, with their presence in our territory for over 300 years, as well as Africans, Asians, Italians, French, etc., all contributing their knowledge, processes, skills, techniques, recipes, etc., to this great gastronomic cultural mestizaje that we enjoy today.

Peruvian gastronomy today

Peruvian gastronomy today has gained recognition worldwide and is acknowledged as one of the most diverse and rich in the world. According to the Ministry of Culture [17], the current food practices expressed in our gastronomy are widely based on an ancient tradition of knowledge, technologies, and practices, whose main function was the domestication and management of natural resources to adapt them to the environmental conditions of the Peruvian territory. Therefore, the originality of Peruvian cuisine is expressed in a set of processes, forms, and techniques of food production, preservation, and transformation into gastronomic proposals that have deep regional and national roots. On the other hand, current eating habits are the result of the historical continuity of a set of cultural elements, both local and foreign, adopted. These include social organization forms, production and distribution mechanisms, festive and ritual contexts, and oral tradition, where food functions as a central axis, a reference of identity, an object to be valued, or content to be communicated. The persistence of this culture has been possible thanks to the work of men and women who have preserved and transmitted the knowledge and technologies involved in the different social spheres that make up the complex routes connecting food production to the plate.

The culinary diversity found within Peru’s various regions is deeply intertwined with the unique circumstances of each region, and it forms an integral part of the cultural heritage of their respective societies. It serves as a symbol of identity, which is expressed through the cultivation of local ingredients, distinctive dishes, specific preparation techniques, and traditional customs associated with the serving and consumption of food. Essentially, gastronomy encompasses all aspects of our surroundings; it embodies our culture itself and contributes to the advancement of communities, societies, and life in general, whether at the local, regional, national, or global level (1).

Current Regional Gastronomies in Peru, according to Guardia [8]:

Northern gastronomy (Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, and La Libertad) incorporates various foods such as seafood, some exclusive to the region due to the warm currents coming from Ecuador. Iconic ingredients in this cuisine are duck and kid (young goat), as well as herbs like cilantro and mint. Two essential elements in northern cuisine are loche squash and chicha de jora, and they also use a variety of peppers like limo, yellow, panca, or mirasol. Lemons (Citrus aurantifolia), brought from Africa, adapted to the local climatic and geographical characteristics, transforming into subtle, small, aromatic, acidic, and juicy lemons. They are now a fundamental ingredient in the preparation of flagship Peruvian dishes such as ceviche and pisco sour.

The central and southern highland cuisine is deeply connected to social, religious, and agricultural celebrations. It offers a variety of dishes consumed during specific seasons determined by the agricultural calendar, as well as social and cultural models. Potatoes and corn are essential ingredients in the highland cuisine, prepared in various ways that have a long historical trajectory and are still prevalent. Many of these festive dishes have acquired new meanings as leisure food. One example is the pachamanca, which can be found in different countryside restaurants, especially on Sundays and holidays. The region also offers guinea pig (cuy) seasoned with huacatay and spices, served with a mixture of potatoes and sauces. Other ingredients used include charqui (salted and dried meat), sausages, cochayuyo (seaweed), and more. In the southern highlands, Arequipa’s gastronomy stands out, with exquisite proposals enjoyed in numerous picanterías, traditional small restaurants with ancestral wood-burning stoves. Picanterías are spaces for gathering, conversation, and socializing, offering intense flavors, unique preparation methods, and an important social aspect in the constitution of modern Arequipa cuisine.

The current Amazonian gastronomy stretches from the misty mountains on the eastern side of the Andes to the flooded plains of the lowland jungle. It relies on the abundant fauna and flora resources that have served not only as food but also as medicine, forming the basis for its development in an environment characterized by immense diversity. Therefore, Amazonian cuisine is characterized by simple cooking methods, with a predominance of smoking and salting meats to preserve them in the intense heat of the region. Wrapping food in banana or palm leaves, both for cooking and transportation, is also widespread. The cuisine incorporates a wide range of vegetables, fruits, and roots collected throughout the jungle, not to mention the different plants that have been domesticated and sustainably cultivated, such as corn, beans, chili peppers, and cassava. Fish is the main source of protein in the region, accompanied by various species of game animals like agoutis, deers, tapirs, peccaries, turtles and caimans. In urban contexts, these types of meats are also used to prepare diverse dishes such as ceviche, chicharrones, arroz chaufa (Peruvian-style fried rice), and anticuchos (skewered meat). The consumption of insects is also widespread and represents an important source of calories and proteins. Notable examples include the suri (Rynchophorus palmarem), a larvae extracted from palm trees, and the mamaco (Myrmecia gulosa), a large ant that appears after rainfall. Suri is usually served boiled or fried, while mamaco is roasted in pans. One of the most famous and recognized dishes is juane, which consists of seasoned and cooked rice with a filling of chicken, eggs, and olives, wrapped in bijao palm leaves (Calathea lutea) and boiled. It is a mestizo dish named after St. John the Baptist, celebrated on June 24th, and it is often enjoyed with masato, a traditional beverage.

In summary, the regional gastronomies have experienced a growth in the revaluation of their culinary proposals, grounded in the biodiversity and local production of food. The vast regions of Peru: North, South, Central, and Amazonia, showcase an exquisite cuisine characterized by its local production. Generally, they incorporate protein-rich ingredients such as seafood, lamb, pork, beef, duck, guinea pig, chicken, and hens. Vegetables include chili peppers, lemons, corn, potatoes, yams, plantains, lime, rice, beans, spices, and aromatic herbs. Additionally, a variety of beverages are available, including “chicha de jora,” “clarito,” “ayrampu,” “masato,” “chicha morada,” and artisanal beers. Refer to Table 1 for details.

Table 1 Characteristics of regional cuisines that are currently part of the growth of Peruvian Gastronomy

When did the real development of the Peruvian gastronomy boom begin?

The development of the gastronomic boom started in the late twentieth century, in the 1990s thanks to a great man and entrepreneur who had a multidisciplinary team to carry out his colossal work. Don Gonzalo Toledo Crovetto was in this team, a journalist and great chronicler, folklorist, and connoisseur of Peruvian culture. He was present in all the trips throughout the country where they went to collect recipes for a book. It is thanks to this multidisciplinary contribution that the book groups the recipes into categories with denominations of auroral cuisine, modern cuisine, and contemporary cuisine.

In accordance with what has been stated, on December 18, 1994, at the Larco Museum, with great majesty and in an awe-inspiring event, the book “La Gran Cocina Peruana” by Jorge Armando Stanbury Aguirre was presented. It was the fruit of over 15 years of research and a compilation of recipes collected through a journey across the national territory, in a fascinating culinary adventure that lasted 3 years in the collection of recipes prepared on-site by great chefs, both male and female, in each natural region of the country.

Jorge Armando Stanbury Aguirre was an internationally renowned gastronome and took Peruvian gastronomy to many places such as Houston, Miami, New York, Quito, and Guayaquil. He also founded several restaurants in the country, including Las Guitarras in the district of Barranco, La Jarra de Oro on Ejército Avenue in the district of Miraflores, El Morochuco on Larco Avenue in Miraflores, El Pancho Fierro also in Miraflores, and El Palmero in the residential area of San Felipe in the district of Jesús María [interview with Mary Toledo, widow of Stanbury, 2023].

I used to go to the square on Sundays to eat fried calamari, and the memories of those days of deep joy made me search, years later, for the taste of those fried calamari in every place I found myself eating. That nostalgic

search led me to discover other specialties that I never imagined constituted the authentic Peruvian food. Thus, with patience, I began to compile multiple recipes, discovering in their places of origin an entire encyclopedia of what is eaten in our country, and I will continue to record their recipes as long as my good appetite allows me to [19].

The book “La Gran Cocina Peruana” covers the following cuisines

Auroral Cuisine: The term “auroral” generally refers to the dawns of our civilization. It encompasses all cultural manifestations that do not have proven foreign influences. It has a wide variety and quantity of preparations in which the process predominates over the ingredients, which, in various cases, was replaced by foreign contributions. It is also the matrix of Peruvian cuisine, where the culture of ethnicities and nations that shaped ancient Peru is present and returns with a glorious flavor through it.

Modern Cuisine: This period begins when methods and preparations from overseas are incorporated into auroral cuisine, which ceased to be the privilege of elites and occupy an important space in the popular menu. This process was gradual, as it depended on the acclimatization and acceptable-scale production of substitutes for native meat and vegetables. Rice made its appearance during this period and remained as part of our gastronomy.

Contemporary Cuisine: With Chinese migration, an exotic concept of cuisine arrived, which, upon reaching Peru, encountered an indigenous culinary tradition with millennia of taste exercises. Later on, Japanese migration arrived with a cuisine that was less greasy and more diverse than the Chinese, but it brought mixtures and decorations that we now appreciate without much surprise.

Thanks to the momentum given by this transcendental event and the work of Jorge Armando Stanbury Aguirre, a great interest in Peruvian gastronomy developed in all Peruvian sectors and systems. This event gave rise to a whirlwind of passion for our cuisine, gradually attracting many young chefs who, at that time, were returning from European schools. Jorge Stanbury’s unfortunate departure from this world did not allow him to continue this work, but it was taken up by other chefs who empowered themselves with a work that is not entirely theirs because Jorge Stanbury Aguirre left the foundations well established.

In summary, one of the seminal books describing the recipes of Peruvian gastronomy is “La Gran Cocina Peruana.” Published in Spanish, English and French, it has gained worldwide recognition. It was one of the books that received widespread acclaim in the late twentieth century and marks one of the starting points for the development of the Peruvian gastronomic boom. This book presents recipes for dishes in three stages: Aurora Cuisine, Modern Cuisine, and Contemporary Cuisine. Each stage highlights a notable difference grounded in the ingredients used in their preparation. Aurora implies that it originates with the dawn of time, from the pre-Inca era, and has persisted despite the introduction of new products by Spanish conquistadors and subsequent migrations. Modern refers to a new cuisine born from the contributions of cultures that arrived and settled in Peru. Contemporary represents a current gastronomy that has transcended time and modernized to fit present-day tastes. Refer to Table 2 for further details.

Table 2 Characteristics of the cuisines described in the book “The Great Peruvian Cuisine”

Furthermore, there are other direct and indirect factors related to gastronomy that contribute to the development of Peruvian cuisine:

Improvements in the hotel infrastructure of major cities

In recent years, the hotel infrastructure has experienced a significant enhancement, evident across almost the entire national territory, particularly in the most prominent cities, such as Lima, Cusco, and Trujillo. This is attributed to the increasing appeal of tourism, gastronomy, and corporate activities in Peru, as well as the surge and expansion of Peruvian cuisine [20]

On the other hand, the Peruvian government has reported the identification of 11′025,595 dollars in hotel investments in various regions, thanks to the Special Regime for Early Recovery of the General Sales Tax (IGV). This refers to a set of completed, ongoing, and upcoming projects in the process of being approved. These investments are located in the regions of Piura, San Martín, Cusco, Arequipa, and Ica, demonstrating that the measures implemented by the Executive branch encourage investment in the tourism sector, fostering well-being and job creation, under conditions of equality and prosperity for all Peruvians [21].

Enhanced presentation of restaurant infrastructure on a national level

The surge of Peruvian gastronomy and the impact of globalization have motivated the country’s culinary sector to display a more refined architectural infrastructure. In this regard, Balerdi [22] indicates that the gastronomic boom in Peru and globalization are also having a positive influence on culinary architecture, which, as a cultural expression, has given rise to significant architectural projects, with some restaurants showcasing remarkable gastronomic architecture on the local scene. “In other words, it won’t be long before the concern for a local cultural identity transitions from the product to the venue where the process unfolds: the restaurant.” [p.88].

Cooking schools emerge in Lima and in some provinces

Since the year 2000, there has been a growing number of culinary training centers opening their doors. Subsequently, there has been a rapid worldwide expansion of culinary tourism. As a result, numerous groups of students from renowned culinary schools have been continuously arriving to investigate and study Peruvian cuisine for at least a month. In this regard, students from prestigious universities and culinary schools in Europe and the USA have come to Peru. Among them, 20 students from the well-known American university, Johnson & Wales, arrived to participate in the “A Peruvian Culinary Experience” program offered by the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL). Similarly, the D'Gallia Institute receives culinary student tourists from Chile, Colombia, and Argentina. Furthermore, other culinary institutes in Peru are hosting groups of culinary students from Spain, France, and England. Internships are also being conducted in provincial schools, along with visits to tourist sites with historical ruins [23].

Development of agriculture in food cultivation in organic gardens and communities

In tandem with the growth of Peruvian gastronomy, there has been an increase in food production from rural communities and organic gardens to supply the inputs required for both the national and export-oriented gastronomic production. In this context, Vidal [24] remarks:

The first link or fundamental resource of gastronomy (food intake and nutrition) is the availability of fresh and well-preserved foods, encompassing variety, quality, and quantity. The APEGA/MISTURA market serves as a significant statistical representation of the vast food supply in Peru, produced by farmers and rural communities. They all come together in this hypermarket of diverse backgrounds and beliefs, representing the deep-rooted Peru. In this market, exhibitors (farmers, peasants, indigenous people) bring with them a representative display of their best agricultural products to exhibit and sell, bypassing intermediaries [p. 18].

Gastronomic fairs and events at the national and international levels where Peru is invited

The significant gastronomic fairs that originated in Peru were organized by a broad multisectoral group, with one of the earliest being held between September 26 and 28, 2008, under the name “International Gastronomic Fair – Peru Mucho Gusto.” Over the years, numerous successful gastronomic fairs and events have taken place [24]. Moreover, since 2004, Peru has been invited to participate in the Madrid Fusión event, which has enabled the country to promote its gastronomy and boost tourism.

Mobility of Peruvians to various countries worldwide, carrying and introducing Peruvian cuisine to their new compatriots

Peruvian cuisine is undergoing a clear and remarkable global expansion, reaffirming its growth and development from various corners of the world where its diverse flavors and textures are enjoyed. Therefore, as Rafo León states in Kanepa [2], today:

Establishments offering Peruvian cuisine can be found in places as remote as Quebec, Barcelona, Chicago, Tokyo, Turin, and Sao Paulo. These spaces do not necessarily share the common characteristic of receiving Peruvian emigrants. Some do, such as Madrid, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Milan, Okinawa, Vancouver, Patterson, and Bonaire—cities that, for a couple of decades, have been chosen by Peruvians, particularly the youth, eager to expand their horizons and seek new opportunities for a promising future. Naturally, where there are more Peruvians, there is a profusion of culinary offerings, not only for them but also for their hosts. However, there are other urban centers that have not experienced the same influx of migration but are already being beckoned by a noble cause: “ceviche”, “lomo saltado”, “ají de gallina”, “chicha morada”, “Inka Kola”, “Cusqueña” beer, “pisco” or a “pisco sour”. Why? To attempt to interpret this phenomenon, let us turn to an image: that of a display case and a mirror [p.15].

The generation of free trade among different countries worldwide

One of the challenges facing Peruvian cuisine in its global expansion is the supply of essential ingredients for its preparations. Therefore, the Peruvian government is signing free trade agreements with numerous countries worldwide, which enables the exportation of many flagship products, such as “pisco,” “ají amarillo,” “ají panca,” “rocoto,” “quinua,” “maíz cancha,” and more. In this regard, Peru is the world’s leading exporter of quinoa. This grain has been declared a flagship product and serves as the foundation of Peruvian cuisine. It is healthy, nutritious, and the perfect complement to the diet of consumers worldwide [25].

Globalization through innovation and technological advancement in communications

Peruvian cuisine, as a significant cultural element, serves as an introduction and a gateway to new cultures abroad, which also represent a novel job market [26]. Furthermore, it is innovative to implement organic gardens within restaurants where leaves, peppers, and vegetables are grown and harvested. This creates an ideal setting to directly source aromatic ingredients for crafting gastronomic proposals, enhancing the enjoyment and flavor of experiential gastronomic tourism arriving in the country. This way, visitors will savor our native and historic products that are integral to dishes such as “papa a la huancaína,” “ají de gallina,” “ceviche,” “rocoto relleno,” and “causa limeña,” which will also be complemented with fresh herbs from the organic garden [27]. Moreover, since gastronomy is a relevant sector in a country’s economy, restaurants face rampant challenges that require them to develop innovations and inventions with the use of technological, cultural, and environmental elements. These innovations generate trends in the processes throughout the service chain, aimed at satisfying customers [7].

On the other hand, gastronomic globalization also occurs within Peru. Chirif [28] refers to this phenomenon when indicating that coastal cuisine is globalizing. Firstly, dishes such as “cebiche,” “sudado,” “tacu tacu,” “cau cau,” “anticuchos,” and others of coastal origin, are now found throughout the country, in environments as different as Iquitos and Puno. Secondly, the cuisine of the central and southern highlands undergoes a similar process: “adobo,” “rocoto relleno,” “chupes,” “choclos,” and “cuy” are now commonly encountered in cities in the jungle and on the coast. Thirdly, the cuisine of the lowland jungle expands into highland jungle regions, such as Chanchamayo, Satipo, and Quillabamba, which were previously heavily dominated by Andean cuisine. Likewise, Amazonian cuisine also spreads into Lima, where restaurants offering these regional dishes have been established. Finally, today, throughout the country, there is a highly diverse range of options representing the entire nation [p. 97].

In the same context as the aforementioned authors, López [29] points out that the privatization of the Internet that occurred in the 1990s, along with the emergence of social networks just over a decade ago, and the widespread development of culinary tourism worldwide, foster “a gastronomic culture characterized by a modernist ethos that celebrates experimentation and innovation.”

Present-day Peru boasts one of the richest reserves of biodiversity and freshwater

In this regard, “Peru harbors 84 out of the 104 life zones existing on planet Earth and ranks among the top worldwide in terms of species of birds, reptiles, butterflies, mammals, and others” [28]. Furthermore, biological diversity is abundant due to the ocean currents flowing along the Peruvian coasts, fostering a coastline that produces the world’s most abundant plankton and phytoplankton. This phenomenon, in addition to the presence of more than 700 different fish species and over 400 types of shellfish, results in a coastal ecosystem teeming with life [2].

On the other hand, Andrean Lodges [30] states in their press release that:

One of the reasons behind the surge in Peruvian cuisine is the diversity and high quality of indigenous ingredients. Visitors are pleasantly surprised by the variety of traditional Peruvian dishes, with each region presenting its distinctive plates, culinary styles, spices, and essential elements. While some native dishes may have a touch of spiciness, many are simply nutritious and comforting. Why such diversity? Because Peru is one of the world’s primary regions in terms of crop biodiversity, where many of the most important early plant foods evolved. In the Andean region, ancient native farmers developed early varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, quinoa, peppers, corn, and beans, along with numerous native exotic fruits still cultivated by today’s Peruvian farmers. Native trout, alpaca steaks, and guinea pig are also part of the Andean native diet. These pre-Incan foods, among many others, continue to be widely used in Peruvian restaurants and are a source of cravings for all Peruvians in their home-cooked meals. Gastronomic feasts are abundant. For instance, Pachamanca is a traditional Andean barbecue, a banquet of succulent delicacies cooked underground on hot stones, following the method of the Inca ancestors.

Culinary tourism

Peruvian gastronomy plays a strategic and pivotal role in the context of the tourist offerings in Peru’s major cities. In this regard, culinary tourism demonstrates a growing trend, driven by the benefits increasingly evident throughout its entire production chain: operators, intermediaries, producers, and visitors. Therefore, culinary tourism stands as one of the primary variables in tourism service offerings. When promoting a service package, there should be a strong emphasis on the local cuisine at the destination, as one of the motivations for visitors is to explore the culture through an abundant and diverse range of culinary products. In this way, providing a unique experience for visitors is attainable [1].

Peruvian gastronomy for the World

The recognition and internationalization of Peruvian gastronomy in recent years have had an impact on the country’s economic, social, and political aspects. It has also become a means of cultural identity affirmation for Peruvians, giving them a reason to feel proud and united as a nation [15]. On the other hand, Peruvian gastronomy is one of the main elements of intangible heritage and identity for all Peruvians. It has now gained recognition at the local and international levels, establishing itself as one of the most sophisticated and diverse cuisines in the world [2].

Peruvian gastronomy is the result of a long process of evolution and mixture that began in pre-Inca times, transcended through the ages, and still thrives today, offering exquisite dishes full of flavor, texture, color, and freshness that are widely recognized worldwide. Peruvian cuisine is based on extraordinary ecological biodiversity, as well as a culinary history filled with complex diversity that involves crops, methods, and processes resulting from the confluence of pre-colonial heritage and the contributions of immigrants from various European, Asian, and African regions who settled in the country. This know-how has enriched Peruvian cuisine throughout the centuries [31].

According to [32], between 2000 and 2012, Peruvian gastronomy experienced a spectacular boom, evident in the rapid increase and modernization of Peruvian gastronomic facilities nationwide and abroad. This was accompanied by the constant interest and recognition of specialized press and major national and foreign media, the participation of Peruvian cuisine in international festivals, the exponential growth of gastronomic publications, and the explosion of academic offerings in cooking and pastry. Furthermore, the Peruvian gastronomic boom is not only local but also global, leading to the successful opening of numerous Peruvian restaurants in major cities around the world, such as Panca in New York, Lima in London, La Mar in San Francisco, Tanta in Madrid, and Osaka in Buenos Aires, among many others. This allows a global exposure of a segment of our culture [33].

With great anticipation and after a two-year absence due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Peru returns to Madrid Fusión 2023, the most important gastronomic fair in Spain. During the three days of participation, Peru showcases its gastronomic potential through a diverse and exquisite cuisine, classified into six categories: seafood, Andean, Amazonian, chifa, nikkei, and creole. These categories were presented through tastings offered by 16 Peruvian restaurants established in Spain. In this context, the great work carried out by Peruvian entrepreneurs and chefs who have chosen Spain as a place for the growth of their culinary talent is highlighted [33].

Currently, Peru is recognized worldwide as one of the most important civilizations in humanity. Visiting our diverse regions implies experiencing a sum of experiences that offer visitors a journey through 5,000 years of history. Therefore, tourists who visit our country through gastronomic tourism play an important role in generating a better understanding of the culture and highlighting the differentiation and development of various destinations. Our gastronomy offers the world flavors, aromas, and culinary techniques that provide unique experiences [34].

In the last 20 years, Peru has experienced a gastronomic boom. Its cuisine is not only the main source of cultural identity and pride for Peruvians but has also quickly entered the privileged spheres of international gastronomy [35]. In this regard, Peru has achieved three significant awards at the 2022 World Travel Awards South America, demonstrating the excellence of the country in tourism, gastronomy, and culture in the region. Peru was named the best culinary destination in South America. Additionally, Peru has been recognized as the best culinary destination worldwide on eight occasions, thanks to its great diversity and cuisine that possesses a unique variety in the world [36].

Peru has around 72% of the world’s life zones. The ecosystems in natural regions such as the cold sea, tropical sea, Pacific tropical forest, equatorial dry forest, desert and coastal hills, steppe mountain range, highland plateau, paramo, high jungle, low jungle, and palm savannah have resulted in an intense variety of species in flora and fauna. Throughout history, these have been available to the ancient inhabitants of the Andean region, significantly influencing their eating habits and customs, which are vividly expressed in our gastronomy to this day [37].

Thanks to its exquisite cuisine, Peru was nominated as the best culinary destination in South America 2023 at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2023, which have been held since 1993 and are recognized as the “Oscars of Tourism.” Along the coast, in the highlands, and in the jungle, the most exquisite gastronomic proposals can be found, as each destination has its own regional dish with unparalleled flavors [38]. Furthermore, TasteAtlas, the specialized gastronomy portal, ranked the city of Lima among the top “100 Best Cities for Local Food.” Florence and Rome took the first and second places, respectively, and Lima ranked third, followed by Naples and Hong Kong. This recognition highlights Lima as a major global gastronomic hub [39].

Perspectives of Peruvian gastronomy

From the government

In recent years, the Peruvian government has been providing direct and indirect support to Peruvian gastronomy. Various state organizations are responsible for managing commercial openings for Peruvian products and their importation abroad. In line with this, Promperú (Commission for the Promotion of Perú for Exports and Tourism) presented a promotional video of Marca Perú in April 2011, which premiered on television and the Internet. This fifteen-minute spot aimed to improve the reputation of the nation among economic and political agents. It has both a national and an international campaign [8].

Furthermore, in March 2011, the House of Peruvian Gastronomy was inaugurated. It is a museum belonging to the network of museums of the Ministry of Culture. Its objective is to “spread the values of Peruvian cuisine, the origins of our culinary traditions, and affirm our cultural identity, which has gained rightful recognition worldwide in recent years” [40].

In addition, on October 6, 2010, the Congress of the Republic, together with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy, approved the celebration of the National Day of Peruvian Cuisine and Gastronomy on October 6 each year. This reaffirms the feelings of pride among Peruvians for the brilliance of our dishes that have crossed borders and now delight palates around the world [41].

From the private sector

In the academic sphere, some universities are contributing to the research and promotion of Peruvian gastronomy by publishing books on gastronomy from culinary, historical, cultural, and social perspectives.

Current research on Peruvian Gastronomy

Scientific research regarding Peruvian gastronomy has gained prominence in recent times. The government, through the journal of the “Casa de la Gastronomía Peruana,” publishes articles with the aim of sensitizing the population to the value of intangible cultural heritage through research, preservation, and dissemination of Peru’s culinary knowledge [42].

Furthermore, academic scientific production, as noted by Guardia [8], takes place within the academy:

The Faculty of Communication Sciences, Tourism, and Psychology at the University of San Martín de Porres initiated research and the dissemination of Peruvian gastronomy in 1992 with the seminar “Art, Culture, and Identity on the Table,” and the publication of the first book, “Culture, Identity, and Cuisine in Peru” in 1993. For the past 27 years, it is the only institution in Peru that consistently and continuously conducts research and publishes culinary, historical, cultural, and social perspective books on gastronomy. During these years, over a hundred books have been published under the direction of Dr. Johan Leuridan Huys, the dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences, Tourism, and Psychology, recognized by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards as the Best Editor of Gastronomy Books in the World for 2005 and 2015 [p.13].

Among gastronomic entrepreneurs are the owners and chefs of many restaurants who have been at the forefront of management and continuous improvement in all aspects of Peruvian gastronomy as a flagship product. As a result, they have achieved numerous international recognitions that position our gastronomy as one of the best in the world. For example, in 2022, at “The World’s 50 Best” awards held in London, the restaurant Central was ranked as the 2nd best restaurant in the world and the best in South America. Similarly, the Nikkei cuisine restaurant Maido ranked 7th, and the restaurant Mayta ranked 47th [28]. Furthermore, in 2023, Peru achieved great successes once again. The highly anticipated list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 was revealed on Tuesday, June 20, at an award ceremony held at the impressive City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, where the best restaurant in the world was from Peru. For the first time in Peruvian history, the restaurant Central reached the top position. Additionally, the restaurants Maido, Hjolle, and Mayta ranked 6th, 28th, and 47th, respectively [43].

From the citizens’ perspective

Peruvian gastronomy has influenced the national identity of all Peruvians living inside and outside the country. It has been a way to build and showcase the cultural richness of the nation. In that sense, [2] states that cuisine has long been a reference and constituent element of Peruvian identity. Therefore, every person, from their own space, feels and breathes Peruvian gastronomy. In this regard, the current and future generations of chefs must assume a leading role by developing healthy and sustainable practices, acting with social responsibility, and providing nutritious, healthy, balanced, exquisite, and sustainable food.

Gastronomic proposals should preserve the essence of flavors, textures, and colors of our ancestral gastronomy. They should embrace the natural aromatics provided by the diverse biodiversity of our food. Following the legacy left by the men and women who originated our flagship dishes such as carapulcra, cau cau, chanfainita, and ají de gallina, among others. These dishes are the greatest legacy we have as a nation.

Cooking responsibly means using cuisine as a tool to generate a positive impact on society, the environment, and nutrition. It involves cooking with the aromatic phenolic compounds found in natural foods and avoiding artificial flavorings created by the industry. It means optimizing food usage and minimizing waste and decomposition. It also entails using cooking techniques that minimize the deterioration of the nutritional compounds in food, ensuring their beneficial impact on consumers. From this perspective, [41] refers that gastronomy is not just about texture, flavor, color, and technology, but also about nutrition and health. When approached from a scientific nutrition perspective, gastronomy can contribute to providing specific nutrients and other components of food, thus adding healthy aspects to dishes and menus that are part of people’s everyday lives.

Future Perspectives of Peruvian Gastronomy

In Peru, the surge in the development of Peruvian gastronomy has reached its zenith, with several top-tier restaurants successfully establishing themselves among the world’s best. Central, for instance, holds the esteemed first place globally. In this regard, the standards they meet are closely linked to the innovation and creativity of their culinary offerings, the origin and quality of the ingredients they use, sustainability, and their commitment to environmental responsibility, the quality of service, and the cutting-edge culinary techniques employed in their production processes to deliver a unique and impressive culinary experience. Therefore, the position achieved by these top restaurants represents a valuable know-how worthy of emulation by many more Peruvian restaurants, with the aim of transcending and achieving sustainable production of Peruvian gastronomy.

In this context, the trend in these top-tier restaurants is a return to the use of local, organic, and historical foods. Fontefracesco [44] mentions that this is an unquestionable proposition in contemporary gastronomy with its origins in Europe through the establishment of the Slow Food movement, an international non-profit organization founded in Italy in 1986. Its objective is the creation of sustainable and resilient food systems. Additionally, it promotes the reevaluation and rediscovery of locally sourced foods used in traditional kitchens, with a firm commitment to counter fast food and foods produced by mega-industries. Furthermore, it encourages the cultivation of local plant and animal varieties by farmers. In general, it provides practical examples to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger, with a vision of local socio-environmental sustainability.

On the other hand, López [29] asserts that the chef-owner of the Central restaurant is a globally connected figure with a project that bears clear influences from New Nordic Cuisine. This has allowed him to create an avant-garde, indigenous, sustainable Peruvian cuisine firmly rooted in local knowledge. In other words, “he wields significant influence within the local culinary scene and is regarded as a major source of inspiration and guidance for a new generation of successful chefs.”

On the other hand, Guardia [8] suggests that:

It provides a conducive framework for the principles of management and appreciation of the diversity of Peruvian food practices to transition from being strategies of cultural resistance and adaptation to becoming action proposals promoted by both the state and private initiatives. In other words, through the promotion of public policies and business projects that can comprehensively and cohesively manage the elements derived from Peruvian cuisine, including inputs, techniques, knowledge, and social uses. This approach aims to ensure the recognition and effective inclusion of their various custodians. Thus, a cultural expression that is central to national society and firmly rooted in its own historical tradition can be valued and promoted to establish the foundation for public policies whose fundamental principles are the management and appreciation of diversity [p. 151].

According to the analysis of the aforementioned authors, the current landscape in the outlook for Peruvian gastronomy revolves around sustainability s the rallying cry for the new generation of Peruvian chefs. They must take on the role of protagonists in the necessary changes in the production of culinary proposals, geared toward making them more sustainable and healthier. The goal is to ensure that the resources we currently enjoy gastronomically are also available for the enjoyment of future generations. This is a chain that must bring together all the entities involved in the production of gastronomy.

Peruvian gastronomy and the current issue of food security

The production and consumption of Peruvian gastronomy fall under SDG 12 of the 2030 agenda. In this regard, food security pertains to the “situation in which all individuals, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and lead a healthy life.” In other words, the entire social framework encompassing the production of gastronomy should implement good food handling practices, thereby improving the processes of food preparation and preservation to ensure their safety. Additionally, the impact of each ingredient placed on a plate affects the carbon footprint, ecological footprint, and the planet itself. Therefore, caution must be exercised when purchasing, cooking, and presenting each delicacy in our gastronomy [45]. In essence, food security relates to the conditions and practices that influence the quality of food across its entire production chain in order to prevent foodborne illnesses that could arise from contamination at various critical points in the process.

On the other hand, in Peru, the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Irrigation [46], states that:

Food security is understood as the material and economic access to a sufficient, safe, and nutritious food supply for all individuals, allowing them to be properly used to meet their nutritional needs and lead a healthy life, without undue risks of losing such access. This definition encompasses the concepts of availability, access, utilization, and stability in food supply.

Hence, one of the challenges that all Peruvians, whether from the government, businesses, or society, must confront is to fulfill the managerial role that falls within our purview. It involves being conscious of the social, political, and economic issues that need to be managed in order to achieve sustainable development in our society and improve the well-being of our compatriots who are vulnerable.

Within Peruvian gastronomy, we must advocate for a coordinated planning, execution, and development involving all stakeholders within the system that constitutes the production chain of our gastronomy. It is a well-deserved tribute to those who are already doing so and a plea to others to follow their example.

Conclusion

Food is a fundamental human need that cannot be delayed. However, our planet demands that our daily food intake be sustainable, healthy, and gastronomically pleasing. This daily practice takes place in a social context. Therefore, present-day Peruvian gastronomy encompasses many dimensions: It brings people together around a table, offers unique experiences of flavors, textures, and colors, functions as an economic activity that generates financial resources, represents Peruvian society globally, stands as the world’s premier culinary destination, showcases one of the most diverse cuisines globally, embodies what we eat and enjoy as a society, and constitutes the identity of an entire nation. It is also a food transformation system, converting raw ingredients into delicious and exquisite culinary proposals, consisting of many interlocking components, including owners, suppliers, exports, internal and external customers, human, technological, and organic resources. It is a social construct that must be approached from a broad multisectoral perspective, requiring collaborative efforts to continue managing Peruvian gastronomy for Peru and the world.

In this context, on December 21, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly [47], established that every June 18th would be celebrated as Sustainable Gastronomy Day. Given the current scenario where we are utilizing oceans, forests, and land in an unsustainable manner, it is imperative that, as producers, we exercise great care in the use of natural resources, and as consumers, we act responsibly when selecting our foods. Likewise, “sustainable gastronomy is synonymous with a cuisine that takes into consideration the origin of ingredients, how they are cultivated, and how they reach our markets and, ultimately, our plates” FAO, [47]. In other words, sustainable development should be based on natural, social, business, and economic aspects.

Thanks to the impetus of Peru’s top restaurants, which have brought Peruvian gastronomy to the world’s attention, the country now boasts models of sustainable gastronomy worth emulating. Restaurants such as Central and Mil in Lima, and Cusco, respectively, work collaboratively toward sustainability and the production of sustainable gastronomy. Other restaurants, aspiring to be among the best in the world, follow suit, as has already been achieved by ten Peruvian restaurants.

Therefore, the government, businesses, and citizens must join forces and collaborate in all aspects to chart the course of gastronomy on the path to the sustainability of natural resources and sustainable production. “Without the collaboration of the entire food chain and the complicity of the consumer, nutrition cannot be recognized as a tool for promoting health or as a sustainable activity for our planet” [45].

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Change history

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the kindness and cooperation of the widow of Jorge Armando Stanbury Aguirre.

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JA-S contributed to writing the original draft, conceptualization, methodology, and editing, and validation. MLD was involved in conceptualization, resources, supervision, validation, and visualization. ML-U contributed to conceptualization, resources, validation, and visualization. JAV-M was involved in conceptualization, formal analysis, review and editing, and validation.

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Aguirre-Sosa, J., Dextre, M.L., Lozada-Urbano, M. et al. Background of Peruvian gastronomy and its perspectives: an assessment of its current growth. J. Ethn. Food 10, 50 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42779-023-00212-4

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