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How-to cook book to put Peruvian soul into any recipe

Acclaimed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio has signed a deal to publish his first English-language cookbook, “Definitive Guide to the Traditional Home Cooking of Peru.”

Acclaimed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio announces book deal of Peruvian recipes in EnglishFeaturing more than 500 recipes, the cookbook will be titled, “Definitive Guide to the Traditional Home Cooking of Peru,” according to Peru’s main daily newspaper El Comercio.

Gastón is owner of the Astrid y Gastón in Lima, ranked #14 of the world’s best restaurants by San Pellegrino, and a host of other eateries around the globe. He confirmed the book deal on his FB page: “It’s official. 500 recipes of Peruvian cuisine in English, with the publisher Phaidon. A powerful tool for international dissemination of our kitchen coming soon.”

While Gastón has written dozens of books, this would be his first in English.

In an interview with Eater.com, Gastón said the recipes will be very easy to follow, and that his aim is to help any cook interested in Peruvian culture to “put some Peruvian soul in any recipe.”

El Comercio reported that this is the first of three cookbooks that Gastón plans to write in English with three different publishers.

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Posted in Peruvian Cuisine, Recipes, Restaurants | Tagged Peruvian cook bookp, Peruvian cuisine, Peruvian recipes | Leave a comment

Pirates in Peru and the Lima DVD dilemma

The viceroys of colonial Lima lived under constant siege by some of the most infamous pirates and privateers of that era: John Hawkins, Thomas Cavendish, Jacques L’Hermite and Sir Francis Drake.

Movies of all kinds in Lima are plentiful, cheap and usually pretty high quality, but more often than not, they're not sold legally. Fast forward to the modern digital age and you’ll find Peru has pretty much succumbed to the new breed of pirate.

A far cry from the high seas buccaneers, some of these outlaws view themselves as champions of culture and promoters of information for the masses. 

These pirate merchants sell just about any movie or TV series you could want — from recent Hollywood blockbusters and golden age classics, to obscure Cannes Indy flicks.

If  your hotel didn’t have On-Demand and you wanted to watch The Sea Hawk, the 1940 Errol Flynn film, inspired by Francis Drakes’ exploits, no problem.

Hitchcock, Fassbinder, True Crime, Downton Abbey…  you can find those, too. Just ply the stalls at the Polvos Azules shopping center, located in a somewhat dicey section of the city, two blocks up from Peru’s judicial headquarters, the Palace of Justice. If the marble lions on the justic palace steps appear anemic, that’s because they are — at least where criminal enforcement and sanctions for copyright infringement is concerned.

The unbridled proliferation of pirated goods in Peru costs the economy about $600 million a year, according to Peru’s National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI).

For a revealing peak at this not-so-underground world, and the people who populate it, watch this documentary segment by Motherboard 

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Posted in Art & Culture, Miscellaneous | Tagged copyright, culture, documentaries, dvd, Lima shopping, piracy, videos | Leave a comment

An Inca family and the fizzy sugar beverage

Floating somewhere between blasphemy and kitsch, there’s recently appeared on Peru’s airwaves a gloriously goofy TV ad campaign for Sabor de Oro that strikes gold.

If you come for a vacation in Peru, you're most likely going to visit Machu Picchu, and at some point be offered a florescent-yellow carbonated beverage. Sabor de Oro wants to be that drink...and to conjure images of the iconic Inca Citadel.

Mind you, this is not an endorsement for the florescent yellow Oro cola, which for years has waged an uphill battle for market share in Peru’s Inca Kola-dominated landscape. It’s just that these commercials are a riot.

The aim of this Oro ad campaign is clearly to claim a piece of Peruvians’ “Inca” consumer identity.

The campaign was the brainchild of Ad agency Circus and Lima-based production company Tunche Films. Their postmodern marketing plays footsie with iconic Inca symbols and Quechua language, superimposed on modern family life in “Golden Moments”:

  • The little boy who builds a Machu Picchu sandcastle during the family vacation
  • The Inca dad who farcically has the great idea turning a fierce Andean puma into the children’s docile pet
  • The Chaski delivery boy at the door in 30 minutes or less with a “12-Angle Pizza,” an order of garlic bread and, “Oh, I almost forgot, the 3.3 mega-liter bottle of Sabor de Oro soda.”

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Posted in Miscellaneous, Peruvian Cuisine | Tagged Peru TV ads, Peruvian soft drink | Leave a comment

Mandatory tour guides and fixed routes coming soon for Machu Picchu

The days of meandering freely through the ruins of  Machu Picchu in serene contemplation of the sacred Inca Citadel are numbered. New rules have been written: “Foreign visitors must hire the service of an official tour guide for their orderly visit the Inca city of Machu Picchu.”

That iron clad line appears in the apparently soon-to-be enacted Regulations of Sustainable Use and Touristic Visits for the Conservation of the Inca City of Machu Picchu.

Cusco’s new Regional Director of Culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, has sent copies of the document to tourism federations and pertinent institutions for review and comment.

“The entrance for visitors into the Inca city of Machu Picchu will be conducted in an orderly manner and be based on previously organized groups of at most 20 people,” the document states.

The guides, who will have to be uniformed and wear clearly visible credentials, will be limited to three established routes through the Inca Citadel. Visitors will be strictly “PROHIBITED” from “leaving an organized tourist group to join another and/or divert to a different guide or person.”

Perhaps most jolting in the new regulations is the establishment of time limits of 3 to 5 minutes to stop and appreciate some of Machu Picchu’s most significant and sacred points of interest — including the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Condor, the Water Mirrors and the Temple of the Sun.

The Peruvian Times got it first and has all the details.

UNESCO has been urging Peru to “finalize and adopt public use plan, in line with the provisions of the Management Plan for the property, including the definition of carrying capacity for the Historic Sanctuary… by 1 April 2014.”

The hard, unvarnished truth is that these rules truly are a matter of necessity.

With more than a million visitors each year, many high-interest locations within the complex are simply not large enough to accommodate so many people at once. Peru now exceeds the maximum carrying capacity of 2,500 people for the Historic Sanctuary, agreed to with UNESCO, which continues to threaten to add Machu Picchu to its endangered sites list.

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Posted in Archaeological Sites, Cusco, Destinations, Machu Picchu, News | Tagged Machu Picchu preservation | Leave a comment

Crackdown on streakers and nude posers at Machu Picchu

There is a growing fad at Machu Picchu that officials hope to nip in the bud: tourists who pose for nude snapshots with the iconic Inca Citadel looming in the background.

Unidentified tourists streak across the principal plaza at Machu Picchu, probably around April 2013

These unidentified tourists streaked across the principal plaza at Machu Picchu. A YouTube video of the incident went viral. (Watch the video at the bottom of this story)

For years, the practice has occurred pretty much under the radar.

That changed earlier this month when photos of two buddies from lands “Down Under” with buttocks bared, went viral, along with a YouTube video of a couple streaking across Machu Picchu’s principal plaza.

Peru’s media pounced.

Cusco’s new Regional Director of Culture, Ricardo Ruiz Caro, issued a statement that the incidents happened on the watch of his predecessor and that he should not be held responsible. He added that park guards at Machu Picchu and other historic sites in the region would increase surveillance from now on “to avoid these unfortunate events that threaten cultural heritage.” Read More »

Posted in Cusco, Destinations, Machu Picchu, News, Travel Photography | Tagged Machu Picchu do's and don'ts | 1 Comment

Travelers flocked to Machu Picchu in record numbers in 2013

The number of visitors to Machu Picchu reached a new historic high last year, with nearly 1.2 million people exploring the ancient Inca citadel.

The record-breaking figure of 1,177,308 visitors is contained in the annual totals published by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR).

Built in the 15th century by the 9th Sapa Inca Pachacutec, Machu Picchu is considered by most who come to Peru a must-experience. Their Cusco vacation would not be complete without it.  Changes are afoot to ensure the preservation of the monument, which has seen an exponential increase in tourist traffic over the past 20 years.

And Peruvian authorities are working on developing Peru’s other amazing ancient archaeological sites to help take some of the pressure off Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu visitor totals 1980-2013

Click on image to enlarge

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Posted in Cusco, Destinations, Machu Picchu | Tagged Machu Picchu preservation, Machu Picchu visitor totals 2013 | Leave a comment

New Abancay airport will offer easy access to Choquequirao

So why is Cusco’s main daily newspaper freaking out?

The construction of a cable car to Choquequirao is a complicated business. Just picture grumpy neighbors who haven’t always gotten along embarking on a common project across their adjoining back yards. So it was sort of bound to happen, an inevitable wrinkle attributable to… in this case, let’s just call it Chutzpah Cusqueña.

The headlines blared today from an above-the-fold, front page editorial in El Diario del Cusco (although it was presented as news):

President of Apurímac still dreams of appropriating Cusco’s property “Tourists will go from Abancay directly to Choquequirao”

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Posted in Archaeological Sites, Choquequirao, Cusco, Hiking, Machu Picchu, News | Tagged Choquequirao Tramway | Leave a comment

Free exhibit of ancient artifacts from El Chorro tombs

If you are doing a tour in Northern Peru in the next few week, there is free exhibit through mid-March 2014 of artifacts excavated at El Chorro.

Photo: Agencia Andina

Back in October 2009, Walter Alva, the preeminent archaeologist of Northern Peru, decided to focus his attention on the El Chorro archaeological zone, with little expectation of making any significant finds, according to daily El Comercio.

The site, located in Pomalca, seven miles (12 kilometers) from Chiclayo had been overrun by scores of squatter families, and thoroughly pitted and sacked by the looters Alva has spent his long career battling against.

But much to his team’s surprise, within two months they were able to identify and excavate 33 intact tombs filled with artifacts of ceramic, wood, bone, textiles and metal, including some of the earliest known copper metallurgy from that region of Peru.

Of the roughly 600 artifacts recovered, 127 went on display last week for a free, two-month exhibit in Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum in Lambayeque. Read More »

Posted in Archaeological Sites, Lambayeque, News, Northern Circuit | Tagged El Chorro, Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, Walter Alva | Leave a comment

Pisco Sour History 101 Questioned

Victor V. Morris, the Utah-born American expat recognized as the inventor of Peru's Pisco Sour cocktail

The statue honoring the inventor of the Pisco Sour, American expat Victor V. Morris, is prominently displayed in the bucolic Parque de Amistad (Park of Friendship) in Lima’s Surco district.

It’s easy to drink, packs a wallop and is as Peruvian as Machu Picchu. It’s the Pisco Sour, and it was invented by a Lima saloon owner from Utah named Victor Morris.

Or was it?

If you tour Peru, you’re sure to be offered Pisco Sours. And if you happen to arrive next week, you’re more than likely to be offered many rounds. 

That’s because the first Saturday of February is National Pisco Day, a declared commemorative nod to the pure distilled grape spirit that originated in Peru in the early 17th century.

It is also a day of tribute to Victor Morris, who is generally acknowledged as the one who first thought of combining pisco, lime juice, sugar syrup and egg white. (I’m told by Limeños who know about this subject that the dash of bitters came many years later, after Morris’ death in 1929.)

It is well-established historical fact that in 1916, he opened Morris’ Bar in downtown Lima, and that it was a hugely popular watering hole for a “who’s who” of  archaeologists, aviators, journalists, diplomats and politicians. And it was from there that the cocktail grew in popularity and started to appear in competing Lima establishments and in far-flung saloons as far away as Chile and Argentina.

Peruvians are grateful to Morris for his contribution of the country’s beloved national cocktail. There was even a statue erected in his honor as the creator of the Pisco Sour.

But then something happened to question the established history. The Pisco Trail blog published a story in December about a discovery that calls into question our understanding of the Pisco Sour and its humble beginnings.

A cookbook published in 1903 — a year before Morris’ arrival to Peru — has been discovered with a “Cocktail” recipe containing most of the basic ingredients of what we know and love today as the classic Pisco Sour.

“An egg white, a glass of pisco, a teaspoon of fine sugar and a few drops of lime juice to taste; this will open the appetite. Up to three glasses can be made with one egg white and a heaping teaspoon of fine sugar, adding the rest of the ingredients as needed for each glass. All this is mixed in a cocktail shaker or punch bowl until a little punch forms.”

Media confusion about coca versus cocaine

Posted in History, Nostalgia, Recipes | 1 Comment

Photos of landslide blocking road to Machu Picchu

Our travel consultant Richard Quispe, from Fertur’s Miraflores office, visited Machu Picchu this week. He sent back these photos, taken on Tuesday, offering a close-up look at the landslide that sent a deluge of earth and giant granite boulders washing over several corners of the narrow switchback road. He also wrote to say that visitors are reaching the magical Inca mountaintop city of stone undeterred.

Machu Picchu Hiram Bingham Highway blocked by landslide - Jan. 14, 2014

It is going to take a few more days to fully restore road access to the Inca citadel.  Local officials on Wednesday ordered the bus consortium CONSETTUR to run its shuttle service later in the morning, at 9:30 a.m., in order to give workers the time and access they need to finish the job as soon as possible.

In this next photo, taken from Machu Picchu, you can see a good overview of the slide. Read More »

Posted in Cusco, Destinations, Hiking, Machu Picchu | Leave a comment