As part of my internship at Profugo, I wrote a blog post related to the annual fundraising campaign “Growing Together“, that seeks to establish sustainable agriculture in Wayanad, India. I chose to write my blog post on my food studies research this summer in Peru and the importance of food for community and culture.
The intricacy of brush strokes on a canvas or the gentle sculpting of clay mirrors the art of a chifa chef skillfully preparing a dish. Consisting of a mixture of Chinese cooking styles and ingredients with Peruvian criollo cuisine, chifa is an encapsulation of the history of Chinese immigration in Peru and a symbol of the translation of Chinese culture in Peru. As art, food, in general, represents the sum of a larger history and culture combined in an edible form. Food is an art form that brings one closer to another culture, where ingestion unifies different soils in one shared human body. It is the text of cuisine, the ingredients, recipes, menus, and languages used in its construction where one can examine society and national identity while also forming a connection to a new land.
This summer, as part of my Hanna Holborn Grey Fellowship at Bryn Mawr College, I researched just that; the importance of Peruvian Chinese food to Peruvian national identity. In Lima, the capital of Peru, resides the central Chinatown of Peru. There, on Calle Capón, one can find many chifa restaurants, the fusion of Chinese cuisine with criollo gastronomy. Peru is actually home to the largest ethnically Chinese community in South America. Chifa restaurants are on every street in Peru and the importance of global trade with China is reflected in the vast amounts of Chinese products sold from companies such as Huawei, which even sponsors a major Peruvian soccer team. Chinese medical practices also penetrate the Peruvian household as much as Peruvianized Cantonese is spoken to order pork buns, or min pao.