Being introduced to Peruvian cuisine is an unforgettable experience. The culinary tradition of Peru dates all the way back to the flourishing period of the Inca Empire in the 12th century when indigenous farmers realized that dozens upon dozens species of potatoes, corn and fruit could be harvested season after season. By the time the conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, Inca cuisine was well developed and ready to incorporate the produce, herbs and spices brought aboard Spanish galleons. Peruvian food has evolved along with the major waves of immigration, which started with the Spanish and Basque before continuing with African, Cantonese, Japanese, Italian, British, French, and Portuguese. These cultures contributed their own styles of cooking, many of which can be appreciated in recipes such as “lomo saltado,” which combines European-style cuts of beef marinated in locally sourced spices and stir fried in the Asian wok style with fresh onions and tomatoes before being served atop a bed of French Fries and white rice. This may sound like the ultimate fusion recipe, but it is in fact a very traditional Peruvian dish. A similar fusion situation can be observed with “seco de cordero,” which consists of a shank of lamb that must be marinated, reduced and braised in a mixture of Cusqueña beer, a golden lager, cilantro and hot peppers. This dish must be served with Jasmine rice and panamito beans, thus making it seem as being from the Caribbean region of Venezuela or Suriname, but it just happens to be an iconic Peruvian meal. Peruvian cooks are known to take chances and to share recipes. There are no such things as secret recipes in the canon of Peruvian cuisine; if there is an opportunity to dazzle diners with fusion creations, Peruvian cooks will go for it. You can find the meals and preparation techniques described herein at La Costanera Restaurant in Half Moon Bay. Let Chef Carlos Altamirano take you on a culinary tour of Peru, a country that many people consider to be one the most diverse in terms of culinary culture and heritage.