The food scene is changing. Not just in North America but all over the world. Take Peru for example; in the recent years it has gained some of the highest recognition in the world in terms of gastronomy excellence thanks to chefs and ambassadors like Gaston Acurio. Then you have restaurants like Central who have taken the core of Peruvian cuisine, transformed it and raised it to a higher level, quite literally.
It’s challenged our tradition and changed how the world saw our food and Peru itself. North American influences and trends like veganism, farm to table, slow food, and organic have reached some corners of Peru. You see districts like Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro adopting them and mixing it with some Peruvian flare with the help of the millennial generation who are speaking up.
Peru is no longer the same as it was when I was nine years old. It has changed and evolved. Food is still at our core but the picture is bigger. I feel that now there is a bigger attention to ingredients, appreciation on agriculture, focus on health, and an adoption of a new style. It is influencing our food culture downright to the way we drink our coffee and have dessert.
I remember the time I came to Peru and the first Starbucks had just opened. It was a big deal. Never before had we had this type of café. Cafes in Peru had a different structure and the extent of its coffee culture was from Café Pasado to Café con Leche to Cappuccino. No flat whites or mochas or espressos or Americanos.
Torta (cake) was also a big focus. Traditional desserts like the Torta de Tres Leches (Three Milks Cake) and Torta de Chocolate (Chocolate Cake) were classics. While most cafes still offer these traditional sweets, there are the unique few who are challenging this norm as we start to see the rise of a more health conscious and hipster generation.
I’ve seen twists on classics like Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding made with condensed milk) but with coco, a “decomposed” Torta de Tres Leches in a mason jar, and vegan based desserts made with Peruvian Power foods like maca, cacao, quinoa, kiwicha.
It’s pretty awesome if you ask me. I am not just saying this because I am a millennial. Don’t forget I am a Peruvian too that grew up with tradition. I think its awesome because what I am seeing this time back in Peru is an evolvement from the first touch of Western influences that started with Starbucks and other North American chains.
Now, you don’t only see Starbucks but a variety of cafes with a hipster feel, focus on sustainability, and origin of ingredients, much like the ones you see in downtown Toronto and university towns such as Hamilton, Guelph, and Waterloo/Kitchener.
We aren’t recreating North American chains but creating our own while honoring our country’s land and agriculture. These establishments are creating their own personality and character using Peruvian products as the base of its product offerings. Most recently I visited Puku Puku Café and Botica Natural Peru and was impressed by its brand, character, and product offerings.
Puku Puku Cafe
Puku Puku Café is a small batch Peruvian coffee shop that aims to bring responsible coffee from small micro lots in Peru to coffee lovers here in Lima. Their spaces are also special, as they have made their cafes embody a green, cheerful and positive space.
They believe in the 3 R’s, which we all know as reuse, reduce, and recycle. Their warm rooms built with 50% recyclable material in the San Isidro location and 70% in their Miraflores location. Not to mention that they try to be sustainable through the cups and papers that they use at the café. From the way they source their coffee to the way they brew and to the way their space is designed, Puku Puku really reflects their mission to be sustainable in everything that they do.
Apart from being responsible coffee ambassadors, the people at Puku Puku really know their coffee. They don’t only offer a variety of different types of hot drinks but focus on methods as well. You can read about the different methods on their site where you will find the difference between an espresso, chemex, and pour over/drip.
If you don’t feel like coffee, they also offer chocolate drinks, artisanal beers and even wine. You can also indulge in some of their bar sweet treats, sandwiches, and salty snacks. And if you want to take a part of the café home with you, they also sell branded merchandise from mugs to manual coffee makers and artisanal and small batch products like organic Peruvian chocolate bars.
I’ve been in Lima a week and I’ve already gone to their café four times and to two of their three locations. I’ve had their flat white, espresso, and Americano, which were all excellent. I will definitely be returning regularly because their coffee is just that good...plus you can’t find an environment like they have created anywhere else.
Visit their site: http://pukupuku.pe/
Botica Natural Peru
They are a vegan organic products producer here in Lima, Peru for five years now. They make organic products that are both delicious and nutritious using Peruvian ingredients. At their location in Barranco, which opened up about 6 months ago, they offer juice extracts, smoothies, and milkshakes. You can also enjoy some of their Nogurt, which comes in a variety of flavours from Algarrobina, Matcha, Maracuya, and Cacao.
Other products include their nut milks, coco milk, coco & café milk. They also have a variety of mixes like their house made granola made with almonds, oats, chocolate, panela, honey, algarrobina, coconut oil, and sea salt. And if that didn’t sound sweet enough they also sell these cashew butters made with algarrobina and chocolate or oats and honey.
However, if you aren’t a sweet person at all and are into fermentation, then you must get some of their housemade Kimchi.
Another thing I liked about Botica Natural is that they sell all of their products in recyclable glass jars. You can bring in your used containers and exchange them. Talk about being sustainable!
Visit their site: https://www.facebook.com/boticanaturalperu/
They are the first healthy food chain in Peru and coin themselves as “a little bit of everything,” offering a variety of healthy and delicious options. Their space shares characteristics of a coffee shop, bistro, and mini food store. It’s a very open space where one can meet someone for lunch or a coffee or bring a laptop and sit down in one of their comfy corners to get some work done.
They offer “natural food” that is “made by hand and with love.” All their products are prepared in their kitchens (which you can take a peak at behind the coffee counter, talk about open concept right?) and they are made with fresh and natural ingredients. So no additives or preservatives!
They offer Arabic coffee, which is 100% organic. They select their grains from the best Peruvian farms between 1300 and 1800 meters above sea level. Plus the cupping method to control quality ensures that you get a perfect roast.
They offer a variety of healthy toasts, smoothies, salads, bowls, and sandwiches. All designed to be delicious but nutritious. They even have waffles made of oats topped with seasonal fruits. And if you are craving something sweet, they also have healthy options to satisfy that sweet tooth with things like vegan chocolate cake, alfajores de Matcha and Curcuma and carrot cake.
You can also stop by their “grab & go” section and get bowls, sandwiches, salads, yogurt, chia puddings, and a variety of other drinks and snacks to go. Plus they also sell some organic and artisanal Peruvian food products at their “El Mercadito” corner such as Peruvian chocolate, their coffee beans, honey, organic teas, protein bars, nut butters, and much more.
Visit their site: https://comma.pe/es/