Lima mon amour (part I)

With Mistura coming up, Gastón Acurio tells us the stories and the restaurants he loves

Gastón Acurio among his people, dressed according

Gastón Acurio among his people, dressed according to tradition. The chef, born in 1967, is a real emblem of Peruvian cuisine. The Mistura fair, from September 6th to the 9th, will draw to Lima thousands of enthusiasts from all around the world. The chefs of Gelinaz will dedicate to Acurio a much awaited performance on Monday 9th September. The article we publish here appeared in Identità Golose’s Guida ai Ristoranti 2013. The second part will be online tomorrow

Lima of my heart. So full of surprises, of nostalgia, of contradictions. Light headed Lima, running like a colt, trying to find its way in the midst of the autumn fog, like under the summer sun. Lima, finally unveiling its secrets, kept between the blood of the thousand people who came here from all over the world. And among these secrets, one of the best kept ones, namely its cuisine. Or, better still, its cuisines. Which arrived from all corners of Peru. From the most secluded corners of the world. As if a city was suddenly transformed into an immense marketplace, where everyone lives in order to eat and enjoy happiness while eating.

Cebiche (ceviche, seviche or sebiche), Peru gastronomic symbol

Cebiche (ceviche, seviche or sebiche), Peru gastronomic symbol

This is the Lima I love. That of extremely poor Rovegno, who arrived from Liguria, running away from hunger, trying to make his dreams come true in a city which welcomed him between large sacks of flour, on which he slept for two years, saving coin after coin, until the day he could finally make his old ambition come true: opening his own baker shop. Which was a lucky event for me, since his dream of a lifetime grew on the corner of the block where I lived. Luckily for me came his Whole baguette with local prosciutto and onion. His tamales, his Pie filled with beets.

Like him, everyone arrived in Lima with a dream. Grimanesa arrived following her love. She even thought she had found it until she realised she was left alone with 5 children to feed. And it was her succulent and tender meat skewers that kept her company during all her life. They allowed her to educate her children. It was that million and a half meat skewers, prepared in total solitude over 35 years, by the side of the street, that livened up Lima, dazzling it with their strong identity. Today Grimanesa doesn’t work on the side of the street. She has a small restaurant on the opposite side of the road ((Anticuchos Grimanesa, Felipe Barreda 475, Miraflor). She’s humble, wise and a perfectionist. And her meat skewers are as generous as always. Just like cola.

Lima, 8,5 milions inhabitants and so many story to tell

Lima, 8,5 milions inhabitants and so many story to tell

As demonstrated by Grimanesa, Lima is the city of specialties. Over 24 hours you have the rare chance to follow a dozen stories, those of men and women who, trying to make their dream come true, have managed to transform it into an experience that can make those who share it happy. Javier Wong (Chez Wong, calle Enrique Leon Garcia 114, La Victoria, +51.(0)1.4706217), for example, didn’t hang any sign: he doesn’t want anyone to discover him.

He wants to keep his square metre for himself, where with a knife, a pan and a sole he creates the best cebiche in town, in the capital of all cebiche, that is to say, in the country of cebiche. Entrenched behind the defence of those who are always on guard, today Javier cannot help but surrender to the affection of his people. His home continues not to have any signs. But his public arrives in huge numbers. And his cebiche continues to stand out.

1. to be continued


Chefs' life stories

Men who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view