Have a craving for some traditional sweets from Ica, real hot cocoa from Cusco, or some exotic drink from the jungle? Crave no more as a new place in town (Lima) has opened where you can get these and many other traditional products from the different regions of Peru. No more need to wait till the next Mistura or until your next trip to your favorite destination within Peru to get your favorite product.
Just a couple of months ago, a young couple, Cesar and Jessica (from Trujillo and Huánuco, respectively), decided to make life easier for those of us living in Lima and opened up a small shop in the middle of Miraflores. Their store, Foodvenirs, offers goodies from the coast, the Andes and the Amazon.
A name and logo could not better symbolize what Foodvenirs is all about: Peruvian traditions ready to be taken home. The creators thought about every detail, from the decoration of the shop, the logo, the shelves characterizing each of the three regions, the packaging of the products – they just want to make sure every customer leaves fully satisfied knowing that they have purchased the best of each region.
On the shelf with coastal products, we found natillas and plantain chips (chifles) from Piura; King Kong, acunas and machacados from Lambayeque; nectars from Trujillo, paciencia cookies, besitos, revolución caliente, and the wonderful Señora Buendía tejas, a personal favorite from Ica. The classic Turrón de Doña Pepa, whose origins date back to colonial times in Lima, are also available.
(Photo courtesy of Foodvenirs)
From the Andes, plenty of products such as the classic cancha serrana, the crunchy mote, habas and less known numia (a dry fruit that the Incas would eat as an energizer and to enhance their knowledge, we were told), panela, as well as award-winning chancaca and prestinos – similar to donuts- both from Huánuco. To continue the sweet fix, there is honey from Ayacucho, rosquitas from Cajamarca, coffee and cocoa tablets from Cuzco, and maca and choco-maca from Junín – a plant powder nutrient well-known for balancing hormones, enhancing one’s mood and apparently a sexual stimulant as well. Maca toffees and tara candies – the latter good for a sore throat – may come in handy when feeling down.
The rooftop wooden shelf covered with palm leaves tells us we are about to explore the goodies originating from the faraway and exotic jungle. For a starter, an attractive gourmet coffee bag and colorful chocolate bars from the VRAEM catch my eyes. I also spot and taste a cocona jam that had the right acidity, texture and flavor. I noticed there were other flavors with sauco, guanábana, orange, and banana with passion fruit. It wouldn’t be complete without the famous aphrodisiacs Rompe-calzón (panty-breakers), ‘Wake-up dead bird,’ and liquors made out of coffee, cocoa, grapes, aguaje and cocona. Bags of chifles and rosquitas from Iquitos were also displayed, meaning it’s up to you to decide from which region derive your favorite version of these sweet and salty snacks.
For now, Foodvenirs only sells snacks, sweets and beverages. However, they intend to start selling cheese, ice cream (specifically from the jungle) and other products quite soon. Their goal is to expand within Lima, the rest of the country and, why not, beyond its borders. I have to admit, it was quite refreshing to see young entrepreneurs ready to take risks and selling quality products at reasonable prices, all to the benefit of not only customers but rural families, including those in the troubled VRAEM, along this vast and rich country called Peru. The visit was not only pleasant for the eyes, good for the spirit and satisfying for the stomach, but it was also a cultural tour of the three regions full of stories that are not necessarily taught in school. Definitely worth a visit.