Recently, we chatted with Chef Carlos Delgado, Head Chef of José Andres’ Restaurant China Chilcano about some of his favorite things to see or do in Peru, and what spirit about the Peruvian people and way of life travelers could take back with them.
A native of the district of Callao, along the coast west of Peru’s capital city Lima, and its main seaport, Chef Carlos grew up familiar with the attractions of the city. “I grew in the Port of Lima, so Lima itself is a food city and there you’re going to learn about the food and culture,” he shared.
“[Visitng Peru,] You’re able to find everything in one country, and it’s a surprise to many people—from the Amazon Rainforest, to a coast full of beaches, and you even have the Andes Mountain Range and imporant historical sites like Macchu Picchu,” he explained.
Within an hour or two in the plane you’re not just transported from city to city, but rather visitors can almost literally be transported back in time to a way of life and social customs preserved for centuries in Peru’s small towns and regions. Even the way people have traditionally cooked and dressed for centuries, shared Chef Carlos. “What shines the most about Peru is the culture. The culture behind where the people are from and why they do things a certain way.”
Although in cosmopolitan or urban cities like Lima most people wear western-style clothing, for example, in more rural areas or villages people still often wear traditional clothing based on their regional background. Many customs are fused with influences from pre- and post-Spanish colonial and native Incan traditions.
When it comes to the way of life of Peruvian people, travelers will notice how leisurely and united the spirit of Peru is. We’re so used to being busy here [in America], but in Peru the culture is more slow-paced, he explained. I can agree, in the U.S. its common culture to be driven by our work schedules. We usually only slow down when we’re on vacation, or take the opportunity to spend true quality time with family when we have the time to travel. Chef Carlos notes that in Peru this type of quality time is very much a part of everyday life. In fact, it’s these cultural values that Peruvian families share together that influence their children. Traveling to Peru, you’ll often see families working and just spending the day together.
“The kids are still doing things their parents did, and that their parents did. You go anywhere in Peru, or Lima for example, and you’ll see the mom and dad, sons and daughters out doing things as a family. Those kids are going to be able to have that under their belt or in their heads as expertise. Like me, I had no clue I’d come to America at the age of twelve, but knowing I was in love with cooking and that I wanted to do that in Peru, here when I was 15 I knew I wanted to be a chef.”