The picanterías of Arequipa, cradle of the Peruvian culinary tradition

The picanterías of Arequipa, cradle of the Peruvian culinary tradition

located in southern Peru, between the Pacific and the Andes, surrounded by a series of volcanoes and by mountains that exceed 6,000 meters, Arequipa is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. Known as the "White City" for its architecture in sillar, a light-colored volcanic rock, its historic center, declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, is enriched by the neoclassical Cathedral and Plaza de Armas. Not far away is the wonderful Santa Catalina Monastery, one of the most interesting places in the city.

Another aspect, perhaps not less important, for which it is worth visiting the Ciudad Blanca is its excellent gastronomy, one of the most varied in Peru, which can be appreciated in the so-called picanterías.

In the beginning, they were known with the name of chicherías (mostly they were private houses), the place where chicha was produced and sold, a fermented purple corn drink, with a particular taste, between sweet, sour and bitter, non-alcoholic, but with multiple virtues for the organism.

With the passage of time, it began to combine the sale of the drink with dishes almost always with a spicy flavor and so, in the mid-nineteenth century, the real picanterías were born, very popular places where still today it produces and sells chicha ( even up to 200 liters per day!) but where a series of dishes and dishes related to the Andean and Spanish ancestral tradition are also prepared.

Stuffed rocoto (type of spicy pepper cooked in the oven, stuffed with minced meat, spices, cheese, eggs and milk), solterito de queso (onion salad, beans, cheese and choclo), hot blanco (meat broth and vegetables), chicharrón de cerdo (pork cracklings), guisado (stew), the famous adobo dominical (marinated meat or raw fish) and queso helado (ice cream made from milk, cinnamon, coconut and spices). And don't forget to taste the traditional corn chicha accompanied by an excellent anise, the Nájar, as a digestive. These are just some of the dishes of Peruvian cuisine and in particular that of Arequipeña that will enchant you and delight your palate!

Today there are about forty traditional picanterías recognized as such in Arequipa and grouped in the Sociedad Picantera de Arequipa created in 2012 to protect and promote the most traditional Peruvian cuisine, united by some characteristics: offering chicha de güiñapo, preparing a specific dish every day ( on Monday chaque, on Tuesday chairo, on Wednesday chochoca, etc.), to serve spicy and, finally, to be a place where everyone can taste the popular cuisine of Arequipa and socialize.

Due to their traditional character, picanterías are generally popular places with a folkloric character, with long tables, benches, terracotta pots and a wood stove thanks to which the approximately 700 recipes documented and cataloged and collected in the La Benita museum are still prepared today de los Claustros. The passion for cooking and the profession of architect of Roger Falcón, son of Benita Quicaño, owner of the traditional La Benita picantería in Characato, has also made it possible to create a real museum dedicated to picanterías within the historic premises. steps from Plaza de Armas. Here are displayed the typical products, the traditional tools and other objects that adorn the place. The restaurant organizes cooking classes (Calle Moran 118, Int. 13, Primer Patio, Claustros de la Compañía; open Monday-Saturday from 10 to 20).

Below we suggest some of the oldest picanterías and linked to the Peruvian culinary tradition where you can enjoy some dishes at an average cost of 9 Euros each. The picanterías are open from Monday to Sunday until around 5 pm (to eat).

Comfortable restaurant located in the heart of Arequipa, where ancient recipes are handed down from generation to generation. Among its dishes we recommend guiso de chuño negro molido, pato con almendras, the popular zarza de lapas and quinoa batida. According to tradition, excellent chaque is served on Mondays. Facebook: La Nueva Palomino

Born as a modest place where the picantera Zoila Villanueva cooked and served - where it happened and where it could - the chicha guiñapo, today it is a real place 15 minutes from Arequipa arranged around a large courtyard where you can enjoy torrejas de camarones and celada de camarones. Facebook: The Nieves

Twenty minutes from Arequipa, it is a very simple-looking place, but made unique by its cuisine: the rocoto relleno, the colita de camarón or the escribano - a popular potato, tomato and chilli salad, topped with chicha de guiñapo - are dishes that remain etched in memory. Facebook: Los Geranios

One of the simplest and most typical places in Arequipa where you can choose the dishes from the blackboard or the dish of the day, with a unique and special flavor because they are cooked on burning wood: chaque prepared on Monday, orreja de lechuga, ají de lacayote (calabaza ) and a good rocoto relleno. Facebook: The Captain

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