Chefs, Food Culture, Peruvian Cuisine

Appetizers in Lima’s Bars Claim New Ground

Irini Eggplant (Photo: Giancarlo Alejandro Gallardo Campo)

Friends, family and work mates often go out at night to have fun. Just like in other parts of the world they like to find a good place for a drink and have a good time. But the night becomes even more pleasant if there are finger foods or appetizers that are quickly made, of easy digestion and, more than anything else, are not to heavy so people will be able to fully enjoy their night out.

Lima’s bars have evolved a lot from their rustic beginnings. Today the quality of attention, the design, and the unique themes offered now with the public policies of cultural inclusiveness are really outstanding. But it is more, the food and drink have evolved to become internationally recognized. They are a fine complement to a good night out.

Even the idea of a bar has changed. Instead of being a place to go and drink till drunk, they have become places where you go to find calm or excitement, and especially fun. Here you can enjoy what people increasingly demand, a drink Made in Peru of great, international quality mixed with flavorings from all over the country. You will also see a menu of small plates that are sophisticated and well made from quality products.

The gastronomic boom of Peruvian cuisine has even entered the doors of bars. Snacks without much flavor or attention have passed into the dustbin of history. Their only point was to fill the stomach while people were giving attention to drinking and drinking as a means of holding off passing out.

Ceviche Irini (Photo: Giancarlo Alejandro Gallardo Campo)
Ceviche Irini (Photo: Giancarlo Alejandro Gallardo Campo)

The creativity of Peruvian chefs is so great that they have gone far beyond the traditional. They wanted to offer something outside the common and ordinary. They developed their ideas in which they reduced the traditional dishes to bite size. As a result, all the ingredients also had to be reduced in size so that everything could fit on a spoon and everything come together in that single bite.

The most privileged dishes were chicharrón which is presented on a base of crispy sweet potato, followed by a layer of glazed sweet potato, then a confit of pork with a topping of salsa criolla (onion, peppers, oil and lime juice) to refresh. The last touch is a bit of wild cilantro leaves. Together the mouthful is magnificent.

Another wonderful dish is a ball of causa (mashed yellow potatoes with fillings) on a bed of avocado and topped with shrimp sautéed with pisco and finished with a sauce of tomato and lime.

There is an infinite variety of small dishes like these in Lima’s bars that were built with this new idea of reworking tradition in mind. They have been accepted with great joy and delighted surprise by the lovers of our bars.

How do you know which hors d’oeuvres are those that stand out from the ordinary ones that were heavy. It is very uncomfortable for food not to sit well on your stomach, especially when you are out to have fun. The key is the ingredients from which they are made and the skill with which they are prepared.

Though many people know that Peruvian food is delicious and that this is the key for its success in the world, they may not be aware that these flavors are only arrived at after a long process of cooking. In many cases they require powerful sauces and dressing filled with Peruvian condiments.

The idea for introducing these dishes into the bar menus was to reduce the power of the dressings by fusing them with more gentle ingredients but without reducing the intensity of flavor.

For example, if the sauce if made from meat it should be the flesh of a young animal, such as piglets instead of mature pigs. In this way the meat will not make our stomachs work so hard to digest the meat. It is important for the meat to be tender to make good and light sauces. Not just the meat, but everything must be light while still keeping good flavor. We need lighter creams, lighter tomato sauces that are not so packed with shell fish. Be careful to try to go to a good bar where you are offered only fresh product made fresh that day, so that your night will be most delightful.

Thanks to this idea we can go out and have fun, enjoy high quality food, just as in the most luxurious restaurants of the city, without every having to leave the bar. We continue to enjoy its environment and the new friends we might make in the youth of the night.

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