Easter is a time of celebration, especially in Peru where the entire week before is dedicated to festivities. While many countries around the world, including Peru, enjoy chocolate and sweets, this country also makes a number of local dishes during this festive time.
The Feast of 12 Dishes — Maundy Thursday
The Thursday during Semana Santa is one of the most important days of the week. This is the day that commemorates The Last Supper where Jesus ate his last meal with his twelve apostles the night before being crucified. There is no set menu for the twelve dishes but they are all diverse and no red meat is allowed, as many are doing a red meat fast in honor of Christ. Traditionally, there are six savory dishes and six sweet plates or desserts.
Since many people are not eating red meat during this time, fish is heavily relied upon for protein. This means there is a lot of ceviche, fried fish, and a number of soups that feature shellfish, such as shrimp or crayfish. Soup is also a very popular dish to serve during the feast. The most famous is the Chupe de Viernes, a stew made from ollucos, a type of root vegetable, and features crayfish and other vegetables. Other popular soups include corn chowder, rice, potato, and pumpkin.
Desserts are taken very seriously during a Peruvian Easter feast. Popular desserts during this time are rice pudding, stewed peaches, sweet empanadas, sweet breads, and mazamorra (a purple pudding made from purple corn). Of course, candy and chocolates are widely consumed during this time as well, especially by the little ones.
Easter Sunday Meal
After the commemoration of Jesus and the red meat fast, Easter Sunday comes around with a roar. A variety of foods grace the table to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. A popular dish is chiriuchu, a mix of dried corn and a variety of meats, including roasted cuy, or guinea pig. Another dish is cuy bathed in tiger’s milk, or leche de tigre, which is lime juice, fresh fish, cilantro and hot peppers blended together. There is also tacu-tacu, an African-influenced dish that is a combination of rice, beans, and meat loaded with spices.
There are also a few dishes that are very popular to eat during Easter in the Arequipa region. These include chupe de camarones, a Peruvian chowder made with shrimp and vegetables. Rocoto relleno, which originally comes from Spain, is a hot pepper stuffed with meat and vegetables and a bit of melted cheese on top; it has quickly become one of the most favored dishes in this region. Finally, there is ocopa, a sauce made from huacatay, or black mint, that has been blended with a number of spices. It is traditionally served over boiled potatoes or fried yucca.
Semana Santa is a wonderful week filled with dancing, worshipping, eating, and being with loved ones. It represents a very traditional and holy time that brings everyone together to celebrate faith and Christ. It is a very special week for Peruvians and as well as visitors.
Find out more about the yearly easter traditions in Peru!