The Chinese influence on Peruvian food is fairly easy to see. You can find chifa -- or Peruvian-Chinese -- restaurants almost everywhere, while other classically Peruvian dishes, such as lomo saltado, were heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine.
But if you mention Peruvian Nikkei cuisine to your average passerby, you might well receive a blank stare. Nikkei, basically, is the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food. Like chifa, it came about when Japanese immigrants tried to recreate their traditional dishes using ingredients available in Peru.
According to Nikkei es Perú, a new book by chef Mitsuhara Tsumura and author Josefina Barrón, "Japanese cuisine is sober, while its Peruvian counterpart goes heavy on the seasoning. Finding a middle ground signified the birth of Nikkei cuisine."
Sounds interesting? Well, you can learn a whole lot more about Nikkei cuisine -- and find plenty of recipes -- by reading Nikkei es Perú. Even better, you can download the entire book, which is written in Spanish and English, from the official website, www.nikkeiesperu.com.
Ica began its tourist week on Saturday, November 23, with activities taking place every day until December 1.
The XXXIV Semana Turística de Ica 2013 will showcase all that the city (and wider region) of Ica has to offer, including wine and pisco, sandboarding contests, dune buggy rides and Peruvian Paso horses. Oh, and don't forget the obligatory beauty contest.
You can find more information at the official Semana Turistica de Ica 2013 website (Spanish only), including a full day-by-day schedule of events.
Image © www.semanaturisticaica2013.com
If you haven't heard of him already, Mario Testino is a world-renowned fashion photographer and one of the most famous people from Peru.
Testino's work regularly features in magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, while his list of celebrity shoots is impressive to say the least. He often takes official photos of European royalty, most notably Diana Princess of Wales, while other celebrity subjects have included Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Kate Moss, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
In a recent interview with Style.com, Testino explains why he returned to his roots to shoot his Alta Moda collection, 27 images that represent the culmination of five years' work photographing traditional costumes worn by the people of Cusco.
If you happen to be in New York, you can see Testino's Alta Moda collection on display at Manhattan's Queen Sofia Spanish Institute from November 20, 2013 to March 29, 2014.
Image: Traditional women's dress. Province of Espinar, Cusco, Peru 2007, © Mario Testino
Here's an interesting project: tourism and hospitality students from the National University of San Agustin -- with help from the local municipality -- are offering free walking tours of downtown Arequipa.
The tours are designed to show tourists the cultural and historical highlights of Arequipa, as well as the modern side of the city. The walks begin from the Tourist Information Office on Arequipa's main square (Portales de la Municipalidad 112), with departures at 9:50 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
That's about the extent of the information currently available online, but there is an associated Facebook page with a contact email and some black and white photos and sketches of Arequipa. If you're in Arequipa, look for the sign above for more information.
On the night of November 9, the archaeological site of Caral -- one of 11 World Heritage Sites in Peru -- celebrated the nineteenth anniversary of the start of investigations into the Caral civilization.
Authorities in charge of the Caral Archaeological Zone (www.zonacaral.gob.pe) hosted a pago a la tierra (payment to the earth) ceremony in honor of Pachamama, or Mother Earth. The site's five pyramidal structures were illuminated, providing a spectacular backdrop to the proceedings.
You can see a slideshow of the impressive nighttime photos over at the El Comercio website. The illuminated Sacred City of Caral looks spectacular, while the pago a la tierra ceremony looks like a Peruvian version of the original The Wicker Man (or maybe Kill List, another British movie I highly recommend...).
In honor of tomorrow's Día de la Canción Criolla (Oct 31), here's my favorite música criolla song of all time: Eva Ayllón's "El Tamalito."
I opened a little bar in Tarapoto a few months ago, for which I created various music playlists for various occasions and clientele. My canción criolla playlist features songs by a number of Peruvian legends from the genre. It's all great music, but I've become mildly obsessed with one song, "El Tamalito." In a word, it's beautiful.
Without further ado, here are a couple of YouTube links: the first is a live performance of "El Tamalito" from Hollywood, while the second is the original (and slower) recording of the song.
If you have any other canción criolla songs or artists to recommend, please let me know -- I'll add them to my playlist. Thanks!
Lima's Plaza de Toros de Acho is the oldest bullfighting ring in the Americas. Opened in 1766, the ring has attracted many of the world's best bullfighters over the centuries and continues to host toreros who otherwise have increasingly limited opportunities to partake in the controversial sport.
Bullfighting, like cockfighting, is legal in Peru. But the spectacle has decreased in popularity over the last few decades, with some Peruvians actively opposed to the event, as can be seen in this video featured on the U.K.'s The Guardian website.
The anti-bullfighting protests took place outside the Plaza de Acho on the opening day of the bullfighting season. As is common with protests in Peru and other South American countries, the police were later accused of heavy-handedness following bloody clashes with protesters.
Photo © Jorge Gobbi, flickr.com (Plaza de Acho seen from Cerro San Cristóbal)
Music fans take note: on October 31, Peru will celebrate its Día de la Canción Criolla, or Day of the Creole Song.
Events will take place across Peru, so keep an eye out for parties and peñas, as well as bands playing in restaurants and free concerts in the main squares of Peru's major cities (including Lima's Plaza de Armas).
Of course, October 31 is also Halloween, but don't expect that to get in the way. According to El Comercio (one of the most popular newspapers in Peru), a survey by the University of Lima revealed that the majority of limeños (residents of Lima) prefer to celebrate the Día de la Canción Criolla ahead of Halloween.
In Peru, Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve, is not as important as All Saints' Day (Día de Todos los Santos) or All Souls' Day (Día de los Difuntos), which are celebrated on November 1 and 2 respectively.
The annual Curruñao festival in La Quebrada, a small town in the district of San Luis in Cañete (south of Lima), has long featured cats as a central part of its festivities. But not in a good way, I can assure you.
The event, whose origins date back to colonial times, traditionally features cat races after which the local population skins and eats the losing felines.
While it is important to respect local traditions wherever in the world you are, the alleged excesses of the cat festival and reported cruelties have long brought criticism down upon the event.
Now, according to an article by The Guardian, a provincial judge has banned the eating of cats and suspended the cat race. For more about the event and the controversy surrounding it, read, "Claws out as Peruvian judge suspends annual cat race and feast."
The Oktoberfest beer festival -- the biggest of its kind in Peru -- will take place in Lima from Thursday, October 17, to Sunday, October 20, at the Explanada Sur of the Estadio Monumental.
The original German Oktoberfest was first held in Munich in 1810 and has since become an important part of Bavarian culture, as well as being one of the largest fairs in the world. It has inspired a spate of similar events across the globe, many of which have adopted the "Oktoberfest" title.
The Peruvian Oktoberfest has been growing in popularity over the last 12 years, with the 2013 event set to be the biggest yet. Beer aficionados will likely be disappointed with the alcoholic beverages available at the event, with only six varieties on show -- all of which are standard Peruvian beers owned by Backus (four varieties of Cusqueña, Pilsen Callao and Cristal).
The beer menu may be slightly uninspiring, but you will be able to sample some southern German cuisine, enjoy traditional music from both Peru and Germany, and participate in games and contests. Tickets for the event cost S/.22 for Thursday and Sunday and S/.32 for Friday and Saturday and are available through the Tu Entrada website and at Plaza Vea and Vivanda supermarkets.
If you want to sample some artisanal Peruvian beers, try the alternative (and much smaller) Oktoberfest Peru - Cerveceros Artesanales on October 25 and 26 at Avenida Rosa Toro 1151 in the San Borja district of Lima.
Image © Oktoberfest Peru