I was talking to two Venezuelan women who were complaining about how absurd it seemed to them to eat sweet potato with bread, and I realised that I couldn't explain to them the intrinsic aspects of a chicharrón. I could not explain what it means to me.
The y told me that yucca seemed a thousand times better than potato and started telling me about their traditional dishes. As the conversation progressed, I was eaten up by the desire to talk about how good Peruvian food is, how delicious it really is when eaten here. I didn't get to say it, but I kept thinking about the conversation and I've come to the conclusion that, although we say that food is good here, and that we are recognis ed globally for it, and "pucha pero que rico se come aquí en el Perú", we'll never get to the bottom of what food means to us.
As a culture, Peruvians have many everyday expressions such as "piña", "papaya", "palta" and many more, which show that we constantly think about food . Many of us don't mind spending our money (no matter how little we have) on food because we really appreciate it .
For many families, eating together is a tradition, and there are all kinds of rituals involved . All of this is because food is one of the things that truly unites us. Not only as a family but also as a community.
We feel proud when foreigners talk about our food, just as we do when they talk about how well we do in football. But it's difficult sometimes to convey that feeling in words, and even worse to explain it to someone who surely already thinks you're bragging.
It's hard to explain without sounding like someone who only likes one type of food and is not willing to try the rest. That's why sometimes, when foreigners talk about food, I just keep quiet and look at my compatriots, because we share that pride, that taste, that feeling without explanation , a shared complicity between those who know that sometimes feelings don't need an explanation.
By Lara Elías and Shirley Nolas