Merry Christmas a la Peruvian, by Las Canteras’ Executive Chef Eddy Ancasi
Located in the Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area, Las Canteras Restaurant & Bar is one of Washington DC’s Peruvian food hot spots where you can get several authentic dishes and of course Pisco Sours. For today’s Christmas post, its executive chef Eddy Ancasi – a native Peruvian from Arequipa, a department located in the South West of Peru – is our special guest!
A typical Peruvian Christmas starts with a big dinner on the 24th with a table full of dishes similar to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey is the typical main dish, although lately there have been variations of pork or chicken; side dishes include potatoes or white rice; as well as traditional homemade hot chocolate, and paneton (an Italian sweet bread). At midnight, everyone hugs and grabs their presents from underneath the Christmas tree and opens them, while fireworks start going on everywhere. After a few hours of kids enjoying their presents, everyone goes to sleep after much chit chat. The next morning, the family gathers again for lunch to eat leftovers or they all go to a nice family restaurant and continue the celebration. If you are married, having a two-day celebration gives you the chance to spend at each other’s families.
And, here is how chef Eddy Ancasi remembers his own Christmas family gatherings:
Over the years, the celebration of Christmas has evolved. In my childhood — in the mountain town of Chuchibamba — Christmas was a mostly Catholic affair. It centered around singing — carols and folk holiday songs called villancicos. And there was always hot beverages made from dark Peruvian chocolate and paneton. Later, when I moved to Arequipa, Christmas eve was a time of family reunion. All my relatives gathered around a long table laden with turkey, mashed potatoes and different kinds of salads — Russian salad, potato salad and so on. Still later, when I moved to the Washington D.C. area, Christmas became a time for gift giving, seeing friends, and of course, gorging on “Causa de Pollo” and other classic Peruvian dishes.
I guess to nobody’s surprise Peruvian food is the main guest of the party regardless of where in Peru you are from. No wonder the expression “love grows through the stomach”.
Have a wonderful Christmas Day!