Origin of Chan Chan

About Peru, Peruvian food and more...

Chan Chan Peruvian Cantina takes its name from the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America. Chan Chan is an archaeological site in the Peruvian region of La Libertad, five km west of Trujillo.

The city was constructed by the Chimú, a late intermediate period civilization which grew out of the remnants of the Moche civilization. The adobe city of Chan Chan, the largest in the world, was built around 850 CE and lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in 1470. It was the imperial capital where 30,000 people lived.

If you would like to read more about this Wikipedia article on the ancient city Chan Chan please click here.

The Chimú civilization was the first true engineering society in the New World. Chimú engineering methods were unknown in Europe and North America until the late 19th century. Although the Chimú had no written language for recording measurements or drafting detailed blueprints, they were somehow able to carefully survey and build their massive canal through difficult foothill terrain between two valleys. These canal builders must have been thwarted by the shifting earth. Around 1300, they apparently gave up on the project altogether.

The above is an excerpt from an article published in the Smithsonian Magazine Travel section. If you would like to read more about the Chimú please click here.

On 28 November 1986, UNESCO designated Chan Chan as a World Heritage Site. In 1998, The “Master Plan for Conservation and Management of the Chan Chan Archeological Complex” was drawn up by the Freedom National Culture Institute of Peru with contributions from the World Heritage Foundation – WHR, ICCROM, and GCI.

You can read more about this UNESCO World Heritage Project here.


Trujillo is in the coastal northwestern region of Peru and the capital. It is located on the banks of the Moche River, near its mouth at the Pacific Ocean, in the Moche Valley. Trujillo is known as the “Capital of the everlasting Spring” as well as the “Capital of Culture of Peru”.

Trujillo’s gastronomy has a tasty and huge variety of dishes, in some cases based on ancient tradition. These dishes are prepared on the basis of fish, shellfish, seaweed, birds, livestock, land, etc. and are counted in more than a hundred typical foods. The names of the dishes are almost always original and even natives.

Source: Wikipedia

Japan and China

The below excerpts are from Wikipedia, Lonely Planet Peru and Peru this Week, living in Peru. If you would like to read the full articles please click on the Wikipedia links provided https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Peruvian and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peruvian_cuisine

For the full article from Peru this Week please click here.

In the late 1800’s Japanese migrated to Peru and in the 1900’s Chinese migrated to Peru due to labor opportunities and more. In late 18th century Peru was advertised in Japan, as “the land full of gold, a paradise with a mild climate, rich soil for farming, familiar dietary customs, and no epidemics”. Peru now has the second largest ethnic Japanese population in South America (Brazil has the largest).This community has made a significant cultural impact on the country, as has the Chinese community.

During the War of the Pacific (1879- 1883) the situation for most Chinese workers began to improve once they were no longer needed for work on large farms. At about this time, the Chinese immigrants began to move to large coastal cities like Lima and Ica. They eventually established their own neighbourhoods in the centre of the city and this section became known as the “Barrio Chino” or Chinatown, which is known for its distinct gastronomy and architecture.

One of the most evident manifestations of the Japanese influence is of course Nikkei, the Japanese-Peruvian fusion food which is starting to sweep the globe. The particular roots of this fusion lie in the significance both traditions give to fresh fish, as Japanese sushi, buoyed by Peru’s thriving fishing industry, mixes perfectly with the ceviche which is at the centre of many Peruvian menus. As with Chifa, the fusion cuisine which emerged from the Chinese community in Peru, Japanese dishes were combined with the flavours and cooking techniques of the indigenous Peruvians to remarkable effect. Thus fresh fish was combined with limes, corn, aji peppers, yucca and the many varieties of potatoes which Peruvians prize so highly. These flavour combinations bring together the best of the elegant and delicate cuisine of Japan with the freshness and spicy punch of Peru.

Today with the rise of Peruvian food in the world it has been established in many institutes of gastronomy and embraced by as many celebrity chefs. The best known dish of all has to be cebiche or ceviche..

Peruvian Chef and ambassador of Peruvian Cuisine Gastón Acurio Jaramillo has helped establish the Peruvian Cuisine both in Peru as well as internationally.

Peru is now also known for its original ingredients, including quinoa, alpaca, guinea pig and aji peppers, and dishes like ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime) and lomo saltado (a beef stir fry). It has been called fusion cuisine, with influences from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. The four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are cornpotatoes and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (Quinoa, Kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lupins). Staples brought by the Spanish include rice, wheat and meats (beef, pork and chicken).

Some cultures are haunted by the existential. For many Peruvians, the question that gnaws at them daily would seem simple: what to eat? Ceviche with slivers of fiery chili and corn, stews simmered for hours in beer and coriander, velvety Amazonian chocolate. In the Capital of Latin cooking, so many choices can be perplexing. Great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients – ranging from highland tubers to tropical jungle fruits – to a cuisine created with the complex history of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influence. The truth is, fusion has existed here for a long time, well before it became a trend. Come and enjoy novoandina cuisine, because going hungry was never an option.

Excerpts are from Wikipedia, Smithsonian Magazine titled “Endangered site: Chan Chan, Peru”, UNESCO).

The South American Wine Industry

Article from http://www.vinetalk.com/the-south-american-wine-industry/

According to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson (MW) seminal World Atlas of Wine, South America is, after Europe, “the world’s most important wine producing continent.” European vines were cultivated in Peru as early as 1531 – long before those vines reached any part of the New World except Mexico. South America’s viticultural landscape has been influenced by immigrants from a range of countries. As a result, it boasts a diverse array of grapes and viticultural influences, ranging from those of the Spanish, Portugese, French, Italian, and Germans.

Argentina leads South America in terms of both quantity and perceived quality of wine produced. Two very large wineries stand out: Peñaflor which owns the brand Trapiche and Bodegas Catena owner of for example Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon.

The country has found success in branding two varieties – Malbec (a red grape) and Torrontes (a white one) that are not currently grown with prominence anywhere else. Grape vines probably arrived in Argentina from four different routes – direct, from Spain, two expeditions to Peru, and most importantly, vine importation from Chile, in the year 1556. Then, the main red grape was likely Criolla Chica (one of the parents of the very aromatic white grape, Torrontes). Early settlers quickly created a complex system of dams and irrigation channels at the foot of the Andes Mountains. These channels still exist and have been crucial to Argentina’s wine industry even today.

The South American Wine Industry

For the next 300 years, the Criolla Chica grape (known as “Pais” in Chile and “The Mission Grape” in the USA) reigned supreme. Then, in the 19th century, two waves of European settlers migrated to Argentina, bringing with them vines from their native countries – France, Italy, and Spain. Vine growers quickly adopted the new, sophisticated skills of the new immigrants and Argentina began to make a diverse array of wines. Also, unlike North America and the rest of the viticultural world, almost all of the Malbec vines are ungrafted, or planted on their original rootstock (over 90% of Argentinean vines are ungrafted). It is believed that ungrafted vines produce grapes of more complexity, diversity, and intensity than those planted on homogeneous rootstock. Phylloxera, the root louse responsible for devastating vineyards across the globe, cannot survive in most of Argentina because of the dry climate and sandy soils. This climactic barrier is one of Argentina’s greatest assets.

Chile is the continent’s second-largest wine producer and it is South America’s largest exporter, with the label Gato Negro distributed to over 40 countries. But also progressive, boutique style wineries such as Vina Leyda which has several wines served on Chilies national airline LAN’s premium business class.

The South American Wine Industry

Brazil, unknown to most of the rest of the world, is the continent’s third-largest wine producer, even though it exports very little wine. In fact, Moët and Chandon – established a sparkling wine house for Brazil’s domestic market back in 1973!

Uruguay also produces wine. Its viticultural history dates primarily to the 1870’s, when immigrants from the Basque country settled there and planted vines native to southwest France. Their major grape is the French variety Tannat, known in Uruguay as Harriague.

Pisco, Peruvian or…?

Source: MercoPress, Saturday November 9th 2013

“Peru is the original home of Pisco, says EU; grief in Chile”

Peru has scored a significant victory in the age-old battle with Chile over the origin of the two countries’ most popular liquor, with the European Commission recognizing the former as the original home of pisco.

PiscoChileans distilleries will not be deprived the right to export the liquor by the name pisco, a word which signifies “bird” in the ancient Inca language Quechan.

The decision establishes the Peruvian village of Pisco as the geographical origin of the drink and will thus protect the country’s right to claim its provenance in the European market. Peru will additionally benefit from “immediate protection within the EU market,” according to a press release by the Peruvian Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday. Nonetheless, Chileans distilleries will not be deprived the right to export the liquor by the name pisco, a word which signifies “bird” in the Quechan language.

The assertion on the Peruvian side of the conflict, is that the spirit derives from the port city of the same name, 143 miles south-east of Lima, which has stood since pre-Hispanic times.

A younger homonymous village to that found in Peru, can be found in the Chilean region of Coquimbo — the country’s biggest pisco producer — in which a law-decree in 1936 changed the locality of La Union’s name to Pisco Elqui in bid to claim globally accepted origin rights for the grape-based drink.

The notorious cocktail pisco sour, made with pisco, lemon juice and ice in its most basic form, is also in the midst of the historical struggle between the two countries, with both Peru and Chile claiming the credit for its invention.

Unlike its companion piscola, a mix of pisco, cola and ice, the “sour” version is widely consumed and cherished in both countries, although one version of events has that the drink was coined by U.S. American Victor Morris in his bar in Lima during the 1920s. The first appearance of the term “pisco sour” in Chile was in fact in a 1924 advertisement by Morris himself in the Valparaíso weekly magazine South Pacific Mail.

Chilean pisco production, which involves distilling grape juice in copper pot stills, exceeded 20 million liters in 2011, while Peru produced little more than seven million liters in 2012.

The main international buyer of Chilean pisco — whose exports amounted to approximately 2.9 million dollars in 2012 — is currently France. Yearly exports to the country leapt in 2012 from less than 8,000 liters to more than 170,000 liters in the course of 12 months, representing 26% of Chile’s international pisco sales. The United States, Argentina and Russia are the next largest importers, while European states Germany, Spain and Poland figure among the top ten.

Chile is the second main importer of Peruvian pisco, with the country accounting for more than a quarter of Peru’s foreign sales for the first half of 2013. The U.S. is Peru’s main consumer and accounts for over 60 percent of the country’s income from pisco exports, which was more than US$5 million in 2012. In the same year Colombia, the United Kingdom and Germany followed Chile as the biggest buyers of Peruvian pisco, with France and Spain also appearing in the top ten.