Many don’t picture Africa when they think of Peruvian cuisine, but the African continent contributed immensely to the flavors now familiar to those who love Latin food.
The tie between Africa and Peru began in 1532 when the first African slaves arrived in South America with the Spanish conquistadores. Africans proved immensely helpful to the Spanish because they fought as soldiers and worked both as skilled and unskilled labor.
The slaves were also skilled as intermediaries between the Spaniards and the indigenous peoples of Peru. Over time, however, Africans were allowed only to work in sugarcane and rice fields and vineyards.
As with any people settling in a new land, African slaves longed for a taste of home but had to make do with what was available in Peru. Many times, that included discarded items their masters wouldn’t eat. Items like unused meat, entrails, organs and leftovers made up the bulk of the new African-Peruvian dishes. Slaves then used a lot of spices to make up for the sometime strong and raw taste.
Other items like rice, bananas and sugar cane were readily accessible to the slaves, so those became standard ingredients as well. Common ingredients making their way to modern Peruvian cuisine directly from African influence are pork, sweet potatoes, beans, garlic, onions, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon.
La Costanera Restaurant, located in beautiful Montara outside of San Francisco and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, has taken the depth of African Peruvian food and modernized it to create a high-end dish. It remains authentic in its style and flavors at this Peruvian restaurant, but with the added dimension of beauty and modern ingredients.
La Costanera Restaurant looks forward to seeing you there!