Food and Vino – A Family Affair

Causa, a Peruvian appetizer made of molded potatoes topped with seafood or chicken salad.

Yep, I’m a Daddy’s Girl. And on this Father’s Day, it’s fitting that I pay tribute to the man who cultivated my lifelong passion for breaking bread with family, friends and new acquaintances, and who loves his Valpolicella despite what any wine snob thinks.

I was introduced to wine at an early age thanks to my father’s Italian roots, although I didn’t fully begin appreciating it until college. Now, before you go getting all Child Protective Services on me, let me be clear that my early indoctrination into the world of wine was much like it is in some Mediterranean and Latin American households – a small splash served with a multi-course, midday meal that usually went until 5 or later. A pour that was seldom finished by any of the kids because we had far more important things on our minds, like dessert.

But back to my father. He is in his element in the kitchen, where he’ll pull marathon stints constructing masterpieces from El recetario nicolini, Peru’s own version of “The Joy of Cooking.” Over time, my father’s culinary talents have created a small legion of Peruvian food aficionados among my circle of friends. As for my own Peruvian cooking repertoire, let’s just say I’ve mastered one dish, which leaves me with about 999 to learn.

Yes, mis amigos, the diversity of Peruvian cuisine is 1,000 dishes strong, according to one Peruvian restauranteur. If I were to attempt the Peruvian version of Julie y Julia, I’d be at it for about three years.

Arroz con mariscos, a Peruvian seafood and rice stir-fry influenced by Perú's Asian immigrant population.

My father is no-nonsense when it comes to wine. In other words, whatever is on the counter or in the fridge is what you’ll get with your meal. For those of you who are not quite as free-wheeling, wine pairing with Peruvian food is not as esoteric as it may seem. I recently enjoyed a five-course Peruvian meal with three Argentine wines that blended beautifully with the diversity of the food. A Torrontés paired seamlessly with the seafood dishes, a Malbec complemented a lamb and cilantro stew, and a dry Argentine Sauvignon Blanc with heady white floral notes capped off a dessert of kiwicha (or amaranth) pudding with mazamorra morada, a popular Peruvian treat made from purple corn.

So here’s to my papi. A Father’s Day toast to you and the thousands of hours logged in the kitchen for love of familia, food, and life. ¡Salud! 

Pescado chorrillano, sea bass in an ají amarillo (yellow chili) wine sauce with onions and tomatoes. ¡Delicioso!

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