Connect to Peru

Where Americans and Peruvians Living Abroad Connect to Peru

Archive for November 2008

So…what’s Pisco? Here’s the 101.

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piscoPisco is the Peruvian grape “aguardiente” obtained from the distillation of recently fermented musts exclusively grapes (grape juice). It has been produced since the 16th century on the mid-south coast of Peru, including the departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.

Lexicographers, chroniclers and historians state the word “pisco” comes from the pre-Hispanic Quechua word “pisko” meaning “bird” as the Incas were captivated by the huge number and diversity of birds in this coastal region.

There are two groups of grapes for producing the pisco:

  • Aromatic grapes: Albilla, Italia, Muscatel (Moscatel) and Torontel
  • Non-aromatic grapes: Mollar, Black (Negra Corriente), Quebranta and Uvina

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Production’s Technical Norms, these are the types of pisco you can get from these grapes:

  • Pure (Puro): From Quebranta, Mollar or Black grapes
  • Aromatic (Aromatico): From Muscatel grapes
  • Green Mosto (Mosto Verde): From the distillation of grape musts in fermentation process (this refers to the musts in which sugar has not been transformed into alcohol)
  • Blended (Acholado): From the distillation of musts of different grape varieties

And now you wonder which one of these grapes and types of piscos is best for the pisco sour?!?!? Well, the most preferred is the Pure type of pisco from Quebranta grapes. There are other drinks you can make with pisco, such as Chilcano, Pisco Libre, Fruit Cocktail, Captain, Bible, Pisco Sunrise, among many others.

Even President Bush and global world leaders got a kick out of the Peruvian pisco sour!

Stay tuned for some easy-to-make recipes coming up soon!

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Written by Catherine Castro

November 30, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Cameron Diaz in CW’s “4REAL Peru” on December 4

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cameron1If you have MTV Canada or CW on your cable, don’t miss Cameron Diaz’s series of 4REAL Peru on December 4 airing at 4 am, 6:30 am, 9 am or 11:30 am Eastern Time.

And if you don’t, no worries. Just click here to watch the series on demand.

Cameron and Sol Guy travel to the Andes mountains of Peru where Puma Singona, a young medicine man, is keeping his people’s ancient knowledge and wisdom alive.

It is a great way to get an idea of the cultural immersion experience you can have when you visit the Peruvian Andes. You see how women weave their textiles with techniques that go back centuries, the perfect line up of stones one on top of the other to build the street in Cuzco, how music serves as a natural healer, and even Bungee jumping!

Written by Catherine Castro

November 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Posted in News, Travel

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The Peruvian Potato: The Answer for Fighting Global Hunger and Poverty, Potato Museum To Open 2nd Half of 2009

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potatoIf you go to the supermarket here in the U.S. most likely you will find maybe three, four, ok…five types of potatoes. Did you know there are thousands of types of potatoes…and one country in the world holds all of them? Yep, all just in Peru! Check out this BBC story about this year’s Peruvian potato boom. Particularly as rice and wheat prices rise around the world, the Peruvian potato is a perfect alternative and even provides nutrition that other products can’t.

The potato originated in the Andean highlands and was first domesticated in the southeast of Peru about 7000-8000 years ago. Spanish explorers brought the potato plant from South America to Spain in the mid-16th century and then spread throughout other European countries.

And if you are planning to visit Peru next year, you might want to check out the Potato Museum which is currently under construction and is expected to open the second half of 2009 at the headquarters of the International Potato Center (Centro Internacional de la Papa – CIP) located in La Molina – that’s just 30-40 minutes away from the main tourist area in Lima, Peru. CIP maintains the largest collection of potatoes in the world, including almost 5000 varieties of about 100 wild species. The collection is maintained in trust under the auspices of the United Nations.

The United Nations named 2008 the “International Year of the Potato” naming the potato a staple food in the diet of the world’s population and calling the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty in support of achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

A whole array of events has taken place this year. In fact, today Sunday, November 30 in Argentina, ALAP 2008 will convene experts from all over the world (including the U.S., Holland, Canada, France, and other Latin American countries) to advance the use and commercialization of the potato around the world. CIP’s Peruvian representatives will be talking about potato biotechnology, genetics, among other topics. There are four more events happening in the UN-FAO’s agenda around the 2008 potato international campaign: a Potato Exhibition in Rome, Italy; the Global Potato Conference in New Delhi, India, a Potato Festival in Kemorovo in the Russian Federation, as well as the 7th World Potato Congress in Christchurch, New Zealand.

And if you are interested in getting into the details of what CIP has planned for 2009-2011, click here (and it’s in English).

For some interesting potato facts, click here, but here is a snapshot:

  • The potato is the most important root and tuber crop in the world.
  • The potato is the 3rd most important food crop in the world, after rice and wheat.
  • The potato yields more nutritious food more quickly on less land and in harsher climates than any other major crop.
  • Potatoes are rich in protein, calcium and vitamin C
  • Potatoes can be harvested in the tropics within 50 days of planting – a third of the time it takes in colder climates.
  • Potatoes contribute to health by providing calories and providing nutrients.

Here are some videos you might want to check out:

  • United Nations video (not CNN as the tag says) on the Peruvian potato, including images of the International Potato Center (the video is 4:30 minutes only, the rest is repeated)
  • United Nations video about the “International Year of the Potato”
  • Fun video on just some of the different types of potatoes
  • Fun ads “Este Pechito Come Papa” (This One Here Eats Potato) by the Peruvian Agricultural Ministry – part 1 and part 2

So now that you know at least the highlights of the Peruvian potato story, hope you stop by at the Potato Museum on your next trip to Peru, whenever you are at the store you can tell your friends where the world’s largest variety of potatoes is, and now you know how you can help the world in fighting poverty by just buying potato — and you will also help generate jobs in Peruvian agricultural families, and share the idea of helping poor countries around the world consume the potato and fight hunger and malnourishment.

Cheap Flights to Lima, Peru from Washington, DC (DCA)

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If you are planning to visit Peru in December for the holidays, check out Spirit Airlines’ website (www.spiritair.com) for great deals. It is not a Virgin-type of flight with high-class service and a glass of champagne, but it is pretty decent and at a great price!

For example if you are in Washington, DC, a flight from DCA (yes! perfect to avoid driving all the way to Dulles) to Lima, Peru (with a stop in Miami) in December is approx. $600 roundtrip including taxes, compared to $1,000 that American Airlines or even Spirit via Travelocity will charge you. And remember DCA is metro accessible (blue line).

Other airlines like Continental or Delta are either promoting or planning to promote flights (hopefully direct) to Lima, Peru. If you know about direct flights at great prices, let us know!

Written by Catherine Castro

November 30, 2008 at 1:57 am

Posted in Travel

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Update to My Welcoming Post

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I realized there is one more thing I wanted to add to the intro of my new blog “Connect to Peru”.

It’s about access to Peruvian news from abroad. Check it out here and let me know your thoughts.

Thanks and hope you find useful my daily updates 🙂

Written by Catherine Castro

November 30, 2008 at 1:15 am

Posted in General

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Craving for a Peruvian-Style Breakfast in VA this Weekend?

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Tacu Tacu with SteakOne of my favorite spots when in the mood for a typical homemade Peruvian style breakfast is in Costa Verde Restaurant where they serve Cafe con Leche (coffee and milk), Chicharron (pork) with Sweet Potatoes, Tacu Tacu (beans) with Steak, and even Papaya juice, among other typical plates, every weekend — Saturdays from 10 am – 12 noon, and Sunday from 9:30 am to 12 noon.

Costa Verde Restaurant is located at 946 N Jackson St, Arlington, VA 22201. And there is free parking (although really few spots) at the restaurant’s entrance lot.

You can also get there via Metro — the orange line will take you to Clarendon, and the restaurant is 2 blocks away headed west towards Ballston.

YUM. Who’s in??!!??

Written by Catherine Castro

November 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Peruvian Artisan Fair in St. Louis Benefiting Artisans in Peru

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If you are planning to be or if you already are in St. Louis, you might want to check out a Peruvian Artisan Fair that will take place at Northminster Church on Sunday, December 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the church on 1570 Chambers Road in Dellwood.

What’s neat about it is that proceeds will be sent directly to local artisans in Peru — a very talented group of Peruvians that given unfortunate lack of funding and access to the international market they cannot demonstrate the immense business and art potential they have to the world.

This is indeed a cause very close to my heart. My grandfather (who is now in Heaven and resting with God) was one of the most renowned ceramic artisans (“retablistas“) in Peru from Ayacucho. Love ya, bulito!

Written by Catherine Castro

November 29, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Events, News, Travel

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