The enormous diversity found in Peruvian crafts becomes manifest in pieces fashioned with personal styles and deeply-rooted traditions, which skillfully emerge from the creative imagination of artisans. Many of these pieces are flawless, having achieved perfection from ancient techniques that are fascinating even today, such as Catacaos straw hats, chiseled mates, Chulucanas ceramics, as well as many-storied nativity scenes and hand-woven rugs from Ayacucho. These items arise from the simple concept of "hand-made or manual industry", which seeks originality and a Peruvian identity in its designs. They are sometimes aided by machinery, but special attention is paid when selecting appropriate materials and paints with a careful treatment of materials and finishes. These can best be appreciated in ceramics, wood carvings, stained glass, filigreed gold and silver, rugs and textiles. Designs continue to have a decidedly Pre-Colombine, Pre-Inca and Inca influence which artisans skillfully fashion to achieve an air of modernity as well as usefulness.
Peruvian cuisine is considered to be one of the most diverse in the world. It emerges from a blend of cultures, Inca and Pre-Inca later markedly influenced by the Spanish conquest. It was subsequently further enriched by the African, French, Chinese-Cantonese, Japanese, and Italian immigration during the 19th Century which accounts for its enormous variety and fascinating combinations. Criolla cuisine masterfully blends the gastronomy of four continents in a single country offering an exquisite array of ethnic dishes in its three regions, Coastal, Andean, and Jungle.
The culinary arts are in a state of constant evolution making it impossible to enumerate currently existing dishes. Suffice it to say that only in the coastal region there are over two thousand types of soups and the country offers 250 traditional desserts for your enjoyment. Its colorful appearance and often spicy flavor, due to the ever-present ingredient aji, is a joy for the senses. Some varieties of aji are not particularly hot but simply serve the purpose of adding color or flavor. Such dishes are generally served with rice, enhancing its flavor perfectly.
We are convinced that any tourist coming to Peru will have the opportunity to experience Peruvian cuisine and feel welcome to be part of a people that proudly enjoys each delicacy. It is currently being exported and delighting the palates of the most demanding of culinary experts and recently, of United Nations representatives. However, Peruvian dishes are not only present in important international events. They can also be found in many restaurants specializing in Peruvian gastronomy in cities around the world. If you have already been fortunate enough to visit one of these spots and are eager to learn more about these specialties, you have no choice but to visit Peru and enjoy its flavors and magic.
Our discussion on beverages must start by mentioning Pisco, always linked to our national identity since it is a beverage arising from the hybridization of native grape varieties. It is made from a moscatel brandy, from a type of odorless, quebranta grape, although others types are made with Italia grapes, Alexandria muscatel and torontel, which have been prepared in Ica and Moquegua valleys in Peru since the 16th Century. This brandy began to be distilled with the arrival of the Spaniards, which introduced vines brought from Spain, which in turn gave rise to generous wines and a brandy that tradition came to call Pisco. Peru has declared it a vital element of the nation's heritage by establishing Pisco Day.
There are essentially two types of Pisco, aromatic and non aromatic. Pure Pisco - non aromatic - is made from quebranta grape whereas aromatic Pisco is made from aromatic grape varieties such as Italia and Alejandria muscatel, among others. Acholado Pisco combines all types of grapes allowing the aromatic grapes flavors to predominant.
Several cocktails can be prepared with Pisco. Peru Libre is made by combining Pisco, a cola drink and lemon juice. Carajazo is Pisco poured over freshly-brewed coffee. The famous Pisco sour is made with Pisco, crushed ice, gum syrup, amargo de angostura, and beaten egg whites. As you can see, there are many exquisite drinks that can be prepared with this brandy.
Drinks of the Incas include masato, prepared with boiled, mashed yucca which is later fermented in large earthen jars. Others traditional beverages include pijuajo, sibre, prepared with flour, water, and sugar, aguajina, prepared with mashed aguaje (a jungle fruit), which is later strained. Chapo is prepared with ripe, boiled bananas which are later mashed. Chicha de Jora is made with a large variety of fruits and jora corn which is placed in an earthen pot to ferment. Purple corn chicha is another delicious variety. Other jungle fruits are used to prepare drinks including anona, cocona, camu camu, casho, taperiba, uvos, and copoazu, among others.