Culture has never been a minor thing. Cultural conventions are a set of mad, repetitive obsessions all communities live by. Obeyed and practiced unconsciously, our customs may seem outlandish to any foreigner, an alien from another galaxy or anyone looking outside the box.
In the realm of Peruvian customs, one may write a 64 volume encyclopedia. Maybe more. I lived the greater part of my life there, and I’m still learning. Ways of cooking, ways of talking, ways of thinking, and ways of doing things that specifically apply to Peruvians. Here are some of them.
1. We Can Live In Our Parent’s Home Past Age 40’s And Not Be Judged
In the US, living in your parents’ home at a mature age is shameful. People may believe you have not led a productive life, or that your parents still support you. However, in Peru, living with your parents past age 40 is not a big deal. Peruvians may think you are a solterón (a dirty old bachelor) but that may be it. In fact, Peruvians admire those who take care of their parents. It is a mark of true gratitude: The well-born man is a grateful man (el hombre bien nacido es un hombre agradecido.)
2. Peruvian Girls Celebrate their Fifteen Birthday in a Big Party called Quinceañero
Image Source: Limo Santa Rosa
A Quinceañera is a girl who just turned fifteen. Peruvians consider it a milestone in a woman’s life: her transition into womanhood. Parents spend a fortune organizing this ceremony. The soiree may include a band show and a lavish buffet. A Quinceañera, wearing an elegant dress, steps into the hall through the main door accompanied by her father. After they propose a toast, the Quinceañera and her dad dance a waltz song. The waltz was formerly “El Danubio Azul” but other songs are preferred nowadays.
Quinceañeros are celebrated in most Latin American nations.
3. The Summer Carnival: Watery Street Fights
Image Source: Tierra de Gracia
Every summer, Peruvians engage into relentless street fights. The weapons? Eggs, talcum powder, black shoe polish or water balloons. Dare walking down the block and you may find yourself drenched in water, with eggs yolks dripping down your face. The carnival is quite an institution, a Dionysian festival where passions flow unrestrained. In colonial times, Limeños took advantage of it for teasing their neighbors, elders or the police. Between 1860 and 1874, the carnivals turned belligerent, with some people injured and several casualties.
4. The Peruvian Chisguete
Image Source: Viajejet
Carnival could easily turn harmful. Neighbors wrestle in an effort to stain each other’s faces with shoe polish. All this would unfold while both laugh hysterically. Others would get hurt running thru the wet floor. This is why Peruvian children only use the chisguete, a plastic gun that shoots a thin, inoffensive water stream.
5. For The Christmas Season, Peruvians Eat an Italian Fruitcake Called Pannetone
Image Source: Cocktail
Pannetone is enjoyed all around Latin America. In Peru, Antonnio Donofrio, son of Italian immigrants, introduced the Pannetone during the 1950’s. The original recipe, acquired from the Italian company “Alemagna”, included candied lemons. For lack of lemons, Donofrio opted for candied papaya instead. Peruvians enjoy Pannetone sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Approximately 30 million pannetones are consumed by Peruvians during Christmas season.
6. Christmas Dinner in Peru
Image Source: Nutricion y Salud Antiaging
Americans have Christmas Dinner on the evening of December 24th or the day after. Peruvians, however, are very meticulous about it. Neither before nor after, sir. On December 24th, they patiently wait until midnight. On the first minute of December 25th, Peruvians wish each other “Merry Christmas” and gather around the table to enjoy Turkey. Precision at its best.
7. The Peruvian Beer Drinking Ritual
Image Source: Terra
Peruvians enact a rigorous ritual while drinking beer. Every American drinks beer using his/her own bottle or glass. Peruvians drink from one big bottle, sharing only one glass, instead.
This custom is mainly seen in populous neighborhoods. A man fills the glass and passes the bottle to his friend. Once the man finishes, he flicks the froth off his glass and hands it to the person holding the bottle. So forth and so on. If you’re taking too long, Peruvians say: “Salud hace rato! (We said cheers a while ago!)
It is natural to see a large group of Peruvians sharing one glass. Peruvian ladies are exempt, for they expect their glass to be filled by men.
8. “El Que La Seca La Llena” (The One Who Finishes The Bottle Buys Another One)
Image Source: Blog da Adri
Certain rules also apply to the Peruvian Beer ritual. The rule is “El que la seca la llena.” This translates to “the one who finishes the bottle buys one more.” Such unspoken rule is vaguely enforced. You are not obligated, but it is good manners. Those who reject that rule are labeled as “camarones” (scroungers) and are hardly ever invited again.
9. On Independence day, Peruvians wear The “Escarapela”
Giant Escarapela at Muralla Park-Image Source: Breve historia Universal
What is the Escarapela? It is a cockade, a circular shaped bicolor ribbon. Escarapelas display the colors of the Peruvian flag: white and red or “Blanquirojo.” Peruvians wear escarapelas on their apparel during the week of Independence celebrations. On July 28, Peruvians also proudly show “la gloriosa blanquirroja” (the glorious Peruvian Flag) on their roofs. The use of the Escarapela was established by Simon Bolivar, in 1825. That is, Peruvians have been wearing Escarapelas for almost 200 years.
10. During Holy Week, Peruvian Catholics Visit Seven Churches
Image Source: Andina
On holy Thursday, Catholics visit seven churches around Centro de Lima. As you may know, Jesus Christ was crucified on Holy Friday. A day earlier, Peruvian catholics visit the seven sites as an homage of Christ’s “Passion”. Why seven churches? During his Passion, Jesus visited seven sites: the Mount of Olives or Gethsemane, the houses of Annas, Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate, the Calvary, and last but not least, his grave. Seven sites, seven churches.
11. Election Day in Peru is a Huge National Event
Peruvians searching for the voting table-Image Source: Andina
American elections are non compulsory: citizens have the freedom of choosing not to vote. On midterm elections in 2014, only 42% percents of Americans voted. Others lost faith in politics or simply don’t care.
Things are different in Peru. Peruvians are conscious of how important their vote is. They understand voting is the cornerstone of a democracy and essential in shaping their nation’s destiny. Elections are always held on Sundays, and an air of excitement permeates over the population. Those who failed to vote pay a fine of 20 dollars. But our voter turnout rate normally ranges from 85% to 90%.
12. Some Peruvians Not Only Eat Guinea Pigs, They Also Play With Them
Image: Manuel T
Some Peruvians love tasting guinea pigs. But others also love playing with them. Peruvians play “El Juego del Cuy” (Guinea Pig Game or Guinea Pig Lotto). The game consists in laying a set of empty boxes over the ground, forming a circle. After numbering the boxes, you bet on one or two numbers. Next, a guinea pig is placed in the center. The box where the guinea pig decides to hide in wins.
13. Tiger’s Milk, The Peruvian Cure For a Hangover
Image Source: Try My Kitchen
Tiger’s milk is the Peruvian version of “the seafood cocktail’. Chefs jokingly affirm Leche de Tigre needs “the Peruvian touch” to make it authentic. Leche de tigre has lime juice, salt, sliced onion, pepper, and sliced bits of fish. Let the juice marinate the fish and minutes later serve it in a glass.
Why Tiger’s milk? Since it is a powerful aphrodisiac, chefs say Leche de Tigre makes you a real “tiger” on bed. Others say the name comes from “Salto del Tigre”, a sexual technique in which the male jumps onto bed like a furious tiger. Whatever it takes, I say.
14. Peruvians Are Not Obsessed About The Weather
Do you tune in any news channel in the morning? Then you know about the American obsession with the weather. Every five minutes, a meteorologist appears just to repeat the same forecast he/she gave five minutes ago.
But who could blame them? Think about Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, tornados, floods and the homeless victims. It’s hard not to sympathize with the weather paranoia of Americans. The Peruvian weather is mild, and we do not obsess about it. We are paranoid about earthquakes though, a fact I will explain later.
15. When Peruvians Get Accepted Into College, Their Peers Shave Their Heads
Image Source: Aweita
All Peruvians must first take an entrance examination. Students are quizzed on the subjects of linguistics, math and sciences. Competition is fierce, and most applicants prepare for years. When a student gains admission is a big celebration. Their peers cut the student’s hair or just shave his head. The hairless students are called “Cachimbos” Everyone mocks their looks but, hey, they are college students.
16. Mistura: The Peruvian Food Festival
Chef Gaston Acurio(left) in Mistura-Image Source: EL Comercio
In 2008, chef Gaston Acurio felt uneasy. Why did our fantastic cuisine lack a festival of its own? Acurio envisioned and then inaugurated the “International Gastronomic Festival of Lima.” Pretty soon the festival was renamed “Mistura”. Acurio sought to reinvigorate the Peruvian identity by exhibiting and tasting the delicious Peruvian dishes.
Eight years later, Mistura is the greatest culinary event in Latin America. Mistura lasts for ten days and is usually held in September. In 2015, the event congregated almost 400 chefs and more than 400,000 participants.
17. Some Peruvians Not Only Eat And Play With Guinea Pigs, They Also Predict The Future and Use Them For Healing
Image Source: Enrique Castro Mendivil
In Peru, there is a saying that goes “You should rub yourself with Guinea Pig.” (Deja que te soben el cuy). When a person goes thru bad times, shamans suggest “La Sobada del Cuy.” This tradition was inherited by the Incas and practiced widely in Andean towns. Guinea pigs were used for an archaic X-ray exam. The shaman rubs a Guinea Pig all over you, and later slices the rodent in half. After examining its entrails, shamans determine what your ailments were. Nowadays, Folk healers in Lima still prescribe la Sobada del Cuy for both good health and luck.
As you see, Guinea pigs are loved in Peru.
18. Some Peruvians Love Watching Cock Fights
Image Source: Robert Hawara
Cock fights had a long tradition in Peru. Dozens of tournaments are celebrated every year. Cock fights are classified in two types: Beak or Spur. The Spur matches are staggering. The Gallos Navajeros (Razor Roosters) are armed with a deadly steel blade called “Hoja de Olivo”. The blades are finely sharped, and their blow is lethal. Usually the match ends with one of the cocks dead.
Cocks are trained by professional breeders. These experts have refined their methods throughout generations. Aficionados can easily tell when a Cock was bred by an expert. While others badly hurt cocks run away, the fine cocks fight until death. In 1918, the narrator Abraham Valdelomar wrote “The Carmelo Knight”, a romanticized story of Peruvian Cockfighting.
19. Bargaining Is A Widespread Practice In Peru
Image Source: Mystic Lands Peru
Google “How to Bargain in Peru” and you will find dozens of links. Bargaining is an art Peruvians have practiced their entire lives.
Street vendors do not set fixed prices. The price that vendors give you depends on your skill. I’ve often seen it. Some act disinterested or in a hurry, others downgrade the product, others beg the vendor, others compliment the vendor, etc. The real good ones wear shabby clothing pretending being broke. It is all about bargaining. An old Peruvian tradition.
20. The Peruvian “China”
Image Source: Ebay
What exactly is La China? La China (the Chinese one) is how some Peruvians call their 50 centimos coins. How did this happen? Before 1990, the Peruvian currency was the Inti. So 500 Intis were called Quinientos (five hundred) or just “Quina”. In 1991, the dictator Fujimori introduced a new currency: the soles. So the new 50 centimos coin (cincuenta) evolved from “chincuenta” into just “china”. Other versions assert it was called China because Fujimori (widely known as “El Chino”) was the one who imposed it.
21. The Peruvian “Coco” or “Verde”
Image Source: Neurobonkers
Latin Americans have funny names for their currencies. Most of them call their currencies “Lucas.” This was due to Spanish colonists, whose coins were informally called “Peluconas” (The Hairy ones). Peluconas gradually evolved into Lucas.
However, Peruvians refer to American dollars as “Cocos” or “Verdes”. Verdes (Greens) is easy to figure, since dollars have a greenish hue. But why Cocos (Coconuts)? First, notice that George Washington’s face appears on dollar bills. (George is Jorge in Spanish) Legend says people began to refer to dollars as “Jorges.”
Then, as all Jorges are often nicknamed “Coco”, Peruvians began calling dollar bills “Cocos”.
22. Peruvians Enjoy A Breakfast For Champions
Image Source: Kiwilimon
American have pancakes, eggs, oatmeal or omelettes for breakfast. But Peruvians take their breakfast to a much higher level. Pan con Chicharrones (fried pork belly sandwich), morcilla (blood sausage) and tamales are items Americans would have for lunch. Peruvians begin the day with a delicious meal. And we would keep eating throughout the day.
23. Fiarse: The Informal Credit System
Image Source: Mensajes Urbanos
Peruvians use an informal credit system called fiar. During the 90’s economic collapse, everyone used it at least once. It was easier to do in your neighborhood’s bodegas. Bodegueros would just give you the product and scribble your name on their notepad. Some bodegueros, upset with customers who never paid, would just hang this sign: “Hoy no se fia, mañana si” (Today I don’t give credit, tomorrow I will.) This practice still exists nowadays.
24. In the Farmer’s market, Both Vendors and Patrons Call Each Other “Caseros”
A causer selling chickens in the market-Image Source: Rpp
“Casero! Casero! We have the freshest products, Caserito!” is often heard inside the market. Caseros are regular customers or patrons. Visit a Peruvian market and people will address you as Casero dozens of times. But here is something interesting: after a while, patrons begin calling their vendors Caseros too. In our conversations one would often hear: my Casero gives me a good discount.
25. The Peruvian “Lonche”
Image Source: Jumbleskine
Americans only have Breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we Peruvians can really eat. In addition to our three meals, Peruvians have the Lonche. The lonche is a light meal usually had four or five hours after lunch, at around six pm. It consists in tea or coffee, and a butter toast, or a ham sandwich or a black olive’s sandwich. We enjoy dinner an hour later.
26. Many Restaurants Have One Item On Their Menu
Image Source: Peruvian food in Barcelona
Imagine entering a restaurant and discovering just one item on the menu. Hundreds of Restaurants in Lima offer one item: Caldo de Gallina (Fowl’s broth). This is also a signature dish in Peru. Decades ago, informal vendors offering Caldo would take over Lima by storm, especially Avenue Grau. As a child, I was impressed at how popular Caldos were. Some people assured it was the best recipe for a hangover. Peruvians spice up their caldos adding scallions, lemon juice, toasted corn(cancha) and sliced red peppers.
27. The Peruvian “Panaderos”
Image Source: Synchronicity
Another awesome fact about Peru is “Panaderos”. These bread vendors, riding a cargo bicycle, would parade around the block at 6 am. The bread was stored inside a white wooden box attached to the bicycle. Panaderos sounded their horn to announce their arrival. Some Panaderos also showed up in the evening, right before the “Lonche”
28. Fierro, Catre, Botellas! (Junk Collectors Who Paid with Baby Chickens)
Image Source: Courtesy of Photographer Patricia Artieda
Chatarreros (Junk Collectors) also rode cargo bicycles. They would make rounds around the block, blowing a whistle or just yelling: Fierro, Catre, Boteeellas! (Steel, junk, bottles!). These are their preferred items, but Chatarreros accept anything, from old clothes to transistor radios. By delivering the junk to recycling sites, they make a good profit. Since nothing is free, Chatarreros would pay you with Baby chickens. Why chickens? Go figure.
29. Triciclos Ambulantes
Image Source: Calderon de la Bruja
In general, plenty of Cargo tricycles, offering other services, roam around the streets of Lima. These are called Triciclos ambulantes (Hawker’s Tricycles). They are literally everywhere. An old Peruvian band “Los Mojarras” even composed a theme “Peru’s Tricycle”, whose lyrics are: “pushing a Hawker’s Tricycle named Peru.” Here is the song:
30. The Soccer Matches On the Block: Pichanga or Pichanguita
Image Soccer: Landacay habla
More than a game, soccer is a passion for Peruvians. Children dream of becoming soccer stars and play for a professional team. You may see children getting together and play soccer matches for leisure. These are the Pichangas: informal games of 15 or 20 minutes. Considered a form of training, children play Pichanguitas to prepare for junior tournaments.
31. Some Peruvians Say “Wednesday” When They Curse
Image Source: Viva Raphael
Whenever children misbehave, their parents say: Muchachos de Miercoles!! (Boy from Wednesday!) If you are an American, this is just a literal translation. Peruvians actually mean “you f**** boy!” They say Miercoles to replace an uglier word. If you’re Peruvian, you know what I mean.
Ernesto Pimentel, a Peruvian comedian, had a successful TV show titled “Chola de Miercoles.”
32. Peruvians Have Been Sipping Cafe o Lait For Ages
Image Source: Huachos
Cafe o Laits are massively consumed by Americans today. Strictly speaking, it is still a sort of “new” beverage. The California gold miners, the Civil War soldiers and even president Teddy Roosevelt just drank plain black coffee. It was in the 1980’s when Starbucks introduced the cafe o lait and lattes to vast markets.
From the fifties up until today, Americans add some ounces of milk to their hot coffee. In Peru we do the opposite: we add some ounces of coffee to our hot milk. This is the Cafe o Lait (cafe con leche).
If you travel to Peru, order coffee from Chanchamayo. It is supposedly the best coffee in our country.
33. The Peruvian “Chancha”
Image Source: Sahil Online
Let’s make a Chancha!, friends in Peru frequently say. Chancha (The She-pig) is a swift, improvised money pool. In our collectivist society, groups of friends make “Chanchas” out of the blue to purchase something straight away: a pizza, a bottle of soda, a box of beers, etc. They are more frequent in a late night after party, or right after playing a Pichanguita.
34. The Peruvian “Rifas”
Image Source: Odec Trujillo
In a stringent economy, Peruvians devised inventive ways to raise money. This is when “Rifas” appeared. Rifas are raffles where numbered tickets are sold to your friends or neighbors. Once all tickets are sold, the drawing (sorteo) begins. On the sorteo, three numbers are randomly drawn. These are the winners. Yet, relax, this is not the Powerball with a billionarie jackpot. The lucky winners of “Rifas” get these prizes: an electric blender, an iron, or a microwave.
35. The “Polladas” or Roasted Chicken Parties
Image Source: El popular
Hands down; this is a sacred Peruvian institution. In the 1980’s, Peruvians in the slums threw out Polladas to raise funds. There were celebrated on Saturdays, on a (rented) spacious flat. Organizers sold tickets which entitled you to a plate of roasted chicken and a side salad. Beer and sodas were sold on the side.
Polladas promoted solidarity, often intended for community projects: health care, fundraising (Polladas Pro-salud, Polladas Pro-fondos). Polladas are likely to prolong till the day after. This is specified on the invitation, which reads: Begins at: 4:30 pm until “the last consequences.”
36. The Crazy Cow
Image Source: Pedro Paredes
Regional festivities are occasions to fire up “Castles”, which are wooden frames loaded with fireworks. This is part of a larger fireworks show. But nothing compares to the Crazy Cow “La Vaca Loca”. Vacas locas are bull-shaped metal frames with fireworks attached.
Around midnight, when everyone is drunk, the Vaca loca is ignited. A drunk (and crazy) guest carries the sparkling frame across the streets, chasing random people. In Spanish fiestas, people run away from bulls to avoid getting gored. In Peru, people runs away from Crazy cows fearing getting burned.
37. Peruvians Say The Expressions: Pa Su Madre, Pa Su Machu, Pa Su Madrina and Pa Su Diablo
Image Source: Mercado Negro
Peruvians use such expressions when they are shocked. They simply denote admiration. Pa su madre (for your mother), Pa su Machu (for your Macho), Pa su Madrina (For your Godmother) and Pa su Diablo (for your Devil) are considered uncouth terms by linguists. But I was never a fan of linguists. I consider them a power structure that imposes parameters that restrict a living language, and rejects the valuable linguistic contribution of the masses.
Pa su madre, or “Asu Mare”, was also the title of a highly acclaimed movie in Peru.
38. School Children Recite The Poem “A Cocachos Aprendi”
Image Source: Documentales Peru
Decades ago, my mom’s girlfriend was once picked up by a “guy on the street.” He was a tall, respectful middle age man who began courting her. Life is full of surprises. My mom’s friend soon learned this “guy” was Nicomedes Santa Cruz, an intellectual giant and one of Peru’s greatest minds.
Nicomedes was the Martin Luther King of Peru, and bequeathed a lasting legacy for Afro-Peruvians. He authored several lectures, essays and poems before his death, in 1992. One of his great poems was “A cocachos aprendi” (I learned thru smacks on the head). The poem questions the value of education, implying that a child’s abilities may not be sharpened but benumbed in the school system. Ironically, this poem is recited in the ceremonies of most Peruvian public schools.
39. On New Year’s eve, Sawdust Mannequins Are Burned On the Streets
Image Source: Tolu for foreigners
The Peruvian government banned certain types of fireworks for both Christmas and New Years’ celebrations. Still, our fireworks shows are breathtaking. Peruvians also take the trouble to make mannequins filled with sawdust. The belly, arms and legs are packed with loads of firecrackers and quarter sticks. So you’d better cover your ears while these mannequins burn.
40. The Popular Mototaxi or TaxiCholo
Image Source: Olga NZ
For a short trip, you may catch an auto rickshaw. In Peru, they are known as Mototaxi or Taxi-Cholo. There must be thousands of Taxicholos, located in strategic areas of Lima. One finds them outside the supermarket, and their pilots specifically approach customers who carry heavy bags. They even whistle to draw your attention. Asked for the fare, pilots raise a finger and say: una china!
41. “I’m Mission Impossible”
Image Source: Asia One
No, it’s not Tom Cruise trying to save mankind. It’s a just a Peruvian trying to tell you he is broke. Peruvians say “Estoy Mision imposible” (I’m mission impossible) whenever they lack money. How did this come up? Let’s begin by clarifying that Misio, is the slang word for broke. Misión is used for someone extremely broke. Then a funny person purposefully added Imposible to Misión. Months later, millions of Peruvians began using it in their conversations.
42. The Peruvian Dog Gangs
Image Source: San Martin en red
It’s certainly astounding watching the dogs in my New York neighborhood. They live a life of luxury: dog day care, dog beauty parlors, dog training schools, dog veterinary care, dog yoga centers, etc. These Manhattan dogs make me wish I was a dog. It reminds me there are thousands of stray dogs in Peru. They hang around shantytowns and form gangs. The Peruvian dog gangs “watch each other’s backs”: they walk, bark, eat and do everything together.
43. Our Dog Gangs Are Affected by Moquillo
Image Source: Aweita
Some dogs quit the gang life and venture in middle class areas hoping to be adopted. My mom recently adopted one, a sweet dog that wags its tail and licks your hand. Unfortunately, dogs that quit “the life” struggle to reintegrate into society. It is hard to train them and the majority suffer from Moquillo, a viral infection. Peruvians believe the best cure for Moquillo is hanging a collar made of lemons around the dog’s neck.
44. Los Emolienteros
Image Source: Andina
Winter is the season for Emolienteros. Emoliente is a hot infusion of herbs such as flax seeds, dried grass, llanten, horse’s tail, barley, Chancapiedra, etc. Peruvians enjoy the beverage in the morning or evening. Several Emolienteros settle their white carts on the sidewalk. Order a glass of Emoliente and see the Emolientero mix your infusion like a master barman.
Emoliente is as old as our nation. When our Republic was founded in 1821, emoliente was already being sold in Centro de Lima. Most emolienteros were Chinese immigrants who recently escaped the Peruvian haciendas. (They had been brought as slave labor for the cotton and sugar fields)
45. The Knife Sharpeners (Los Afiladores)
Image Source: Emrobh
Some Peruvians specialize in sharpening knifes. They carry a one-wheeled sharpening station with a round emery stone attached. Some afiladores march throughout the streets blowing a whistle. Others hang around the market or restaurants. Caseras prefer to sharpen their home knifes with afiladores. Afiladores are professional, caseras say.
46. Choque y Fuga: The Peruvian “One Night Stand”
Image Source: USA today best
In New York, Americans are very open to one night stands. Peruvians…not so much. I may be wrong, perhaps I only attended “nerdie” parties. Peruvians refer to Choque y Fuga (Crash and run away) whenever alluding to a “one night stand.” This expression is only used by men, of course. Most Peruvian ladies, respectable as they are, consider “Choque y fuga” an insult, and rightfully so.
47. The Popular Yunza
Image Source: Folklore Peruano
Environmentalists may perhaps not be happy about this. During carnivals, Peruvians across the territory celebrate the Yunza or Cortamonte. Neighbors plant a recently chopped tree in the middle of the square. A day before the party, gifts are hanged on the tree’s branches. One may find balls, balloons, plastic toys, plush dolls, fruits, etc. Then, on the given day, Peruvians dance around the tree holding hands. Each guest takes turns to hit the trunk with a machete. Afterwards, everyone jump onto the fallen tree. Many get scratches or bruises but, hey, they’ve got a gift.
48. Extracto de Rana: The Cure-all Frog Peruvian Shake
Image Source: Itinerant Londoner
Peruvians have made headlines for drinking the Frog shake. Extracto de rana is made with eggs, carrots, maca, cat’s claw, honey and a fresh frog. This is an indigenous recipe whose popularity has expanded. Peruvians claim it heals asthma, bronchitis, sexual disfunction and fatigue. Extracto de rana is mainly consumed by the working class. Three live frogs are knocked down, eviscerated, peeled off and thrown into the blender with other ingredients. And there you have it, a green, heavy and sticky frog shake.
49. The Peruvian “Yapa”
Image Source: Grufides
Whenever you buy something, the vendor may choose to give you a Yapa. The yapa is something extra, a freebie. Let’s say you order a pound of sugar, but your Casero adds a few extra ounces for free. Yapa comes from the quechua term llapay, which means “add-on”. The Yapa was introduced in colonial times. Merchants used it as a method to attract more customers. Nowadays, Vendors give “Yapas” to their loyal customers, as a form of gratitude. This custom is also practiced in Argentina and Bolivia. Colombians call it “ñapa”.
50. For a While, Most Peruvian Parrots Were Named “Aurora”
Image Source: Universidad Cayetano Heredia
This is not a joke. But for a while over 60% of Peruvian Parrots were named Aurora. Everywhere you went, someone had already named their parrot Aurora. I will speculate the reason for this. Parrot owners frequently tried to make their birds speak. Some words are easier for the parrots to pronounce: words with R (or r-r-r-r) for example. Aurora became the catchword and this is how the name trend started. Plenty of times I saw neighbors addressing a parrot with: Aurora! Sometimes the parrot would correct them: Aurorita!!!
51. The Peruvian Cachanga
Image Source: Oxigeno
The Cachanga is a fried corn flour dough. Cachangas are eaten in the morning for breakfast or in the lonche. Cachangas were very popular in colonial times. Cachanga comes from the quechua “Kachampu”, which means “I want to tell you something”. Accordingly, colonial residents gave Cachangas as tokens of affection, to friends and peers. In the colonial era, Peruvian lovers did not give flowers, teddy bears or chocolates. They offered a Cachanga soaked in honey.
Nowadays Cachangas are not too popular. But one can still find Cachangeros in Centro de Lima or outside some public schools.
52. During the Nineties, Some Security Guards Were Called “Yungay”
In 1998, a TV commercial “went viral” in Peru. The spot showed a security guard who, unable to speak English, failed to seduce a beautiful young tourist. The blonde tourist told him: “I want you, guy..”. The security guard, guessing she inquired for directions, said: “Oh! Yungay! It is called Yungay, Yungay street!” and pushes her away.
Many underestimate the power the media has over the public. Days later, millions of Peruvians began to refer to security guards as “Yungay”. And the trend went on for several years. Security guards did not find it funny though. Many complained the TV spot made them look “ignorant” and stupid. This is true, society has always belittled certain professions.
53. Tacna is Commonly Known as “The Heroic City”
Image Source: Amanecer Tumbesino
After the war with Chile, the southern regions of Tacna and Arica were invaded by Chile in 1883. The “Peace Treaty of Ancon” stipulated they were to be occupied by Chile for ten years. After this period, the residents of both regions would stage a referendum. The jurisdictions had to choose to either belong to Chilean territory or be returned to Peru.
The referendum never occurred. Tacna residents refused to accept Chilean nationality under any circumstances. The protests forced Chile to sign an accord with Peru. The Chilean troops abandoned Tacna, and the region was officially reacquired by Peru, on August 28, 1925.
Since then, every August Tacneños celebrate their reinsertion into Peru. They parade a gigantic Peruvian flag through their main streets, and pledge allegiance to their glorious homeland.
54. The Lord Of The Earthquakes (Taitacha Temblores)
Image Source: Photo Experience
Americans are paranoid about the weather. Peruvians get paranoid with earthquakes. Our territory has been the epicenter of several catastrophic earthquakes. The last one, in 2007, occurred in Ica, south of Lima, and killed 519 people.
Cusco residents also had their share of earthquakes. This is why Cusquenos venerate an image of Christ on the Cross on Easter Monday. This is the Lord of The Earthquakes (Taitacha Temblores, in Quechua) which was a gift from the Spanish King Phillip, around 1620. Since 1650, the image of Taitacha (Big Daddy) is taken out for procession to keep Cusco safe from deadly earthquakes. Taitacha is decorated with wreaths of ñukchu (red flowers), symbolizing the blood of Christ.
55. Some Peruvians Not Only Eat, Heal and Play With Guinea Pigs, They Also Throw A Guinea Pig Fashion Contest
Image Source: Mejia/Ap
The Peruvian government officially assigned October 9 as the “National Day of the Guinea Pig.” Many andean communities of Peru stage lively festivals on this day. Several unheard of guinea pig recipes are prepared then. But, when it comes to Guinea Pigs, Peruvians in Huancayo and Huacho have set no limits. They also celebrate a guinea pig fashion show! Indigenous women dress up their guinea pigs with different customes: miners, peasants, or just an indigenous outfit. The festival organizers are quite humorous about it. They say: “The Guinea Pigs winning the fashion competition are spared the frying pan.”
56. The Peruvian Trompo (or Whipping Top)
Image Source: Taringa
Peruvian children love playing with trompos. The whipping top is spun by rounding a cord called guaraca. Children compete by spinning their trompos inside a circle drawn on the ground. The trompo spinning the longest win. Others play “quiñes”: trompos hit one another with their steel tips. In the game Cocina (the kitchen), the spinning trompos push each other towards a circle. The loser is obliged to give away his trompo.
The author Jose Diez Canseco wrote a famous story called “El trompo.” It included this line: “Trompos should not have a crack …nothing a person owns must be tainted by anyone or anything”
57. It is Papaya!! (Esta Papaya!)
Image Source: Dreamatico
Peruvians name the fruit Papaya, when something is easy to do. Esta papayita!, it is often heard. Naming a fruit is not odd, considering that Americans say “piece of cake” for the same situation.
58. Peruvians Celebrate “The Day Of Criollo Song”
Image Source: Aweita
On October 31, Peruvians celebrate “the Day of Criollo song”. Criollo (or creole) music originated from the fusion of international rythms.
Remember that when New York was just a rustic Dutch colony, Lima was a cosmopolitan and sophisticated city. During the 1800’s, Lima residents mixed african tunes, the french minuet, the Polish Mazurka, Viennese waltz and the Spanish jota. This is how Criollo music originated. The music was despised by the Peruvian elite who preferred attending to Opera houses. In the 1910’s, with the emergence of great performers, Criollo music gained recognition. There is a popular criollo song called “Y se llama Peru” (It is named Peru), which has become a patriotic anthem. Here it is:
59. Criollo Music is Even Played by International Orchestras
Is the American folk music played by international orchestras? I don’t think so. If it does, please correct me. Criollo Music is so magnificent that international orchestras occasionally play them in their repertoire. Themes like the “La Flor de la Canela”, “El Plebeyo” and “Todos Vuelven” had been frequently interpreted. The South Korean Orchestra “Gracias”, for example, has played the theme “It is named Peru” in several instances.
60. Some Peruvians Are Fond Of “Chicha” Music
Image Source: Oidores
The Colombian Cumbia was very popular in Peru during the 1960′. During the 1970’s, Peruvian Cumbia bands began blending Criollo music rhythms in their performances.
In the late 1970’s, something interesting occurred. In addition to Criollo rhythms, Cumbia bands introduced Huayno tunes into their songs. The fusion of Cumbia, Criollo music and Huayno produced the music style now known as Chicha. In the early 1980’s, Chicha had become a favorite for the Peruvian working class. In 1979, the Chicha band “Children of the Sun” released a seminal song that laid the groundwork of Chicha music thereafter. The song is titled “Cariñito”:
61. The Middle Class Worship Saint Rose of Lima, The Poor Worship Sarita Colonia
Image Source: Lima gris
Sarita Colonia was born in Huaraz in 1914. Her family was poor, and her mother had died from bronchitis. At 16, Sarita emigrated to Callao neighborhood, in Lima. Sarita struggled to adapt to the life in Lima. First she worked as an ambulante (street hawker) in Mercado Central. She sold fish, and later moved to selling fruits and vegetables. After this, little is known of her life. At 26, she checked into Bellavista hospital and died days later. The hospital papers attribute her death to malaria.
Sarita is massively worshipped in Callao neighborhood, and other slums. Some Peruvians even have tattoos of her and swear with her name: they don’t say “I swear to God” but “I swear to Sarita!” (Por la Sarita!!)
Sarita, along with Pablo Escobar, are two Latin American saints who had not yet been officially recognized by the Vatican.
62. Arequipa Residents Consider Their Region an Independent Nation
Passport of the Independent Republic of Arequipa-Image Source: Rpp
“No, I’m not Peruvian! I’m from Arequipa!” You will hear this expression if you travel to Arequipa.
This regional Arequipeño pride began two centuries ago. When the Peruvian Republic was founded in 1821, Lima assumed federal powers. Lima imposed unfair restrictions on trade for other regions. Arequipeños were forbidden to trade with Bolivia or Chile. This measure almost sunk Arequipa into bankruptcy. Then, Arequipeño merchants and traders agitated the masses for the liberation against “the tyranny imposed by Lima and the oppressors of the Peruvian Republic.”
From then on, Arequipeños jokingly consider Arequipa an independent nation.
Image Source: Rainbowasi
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XpatNation is a Social News and Lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences on ex-patriots living in The United States. XpatNation brings together the voices, thoughts, perceptions and experiences of the people of the world who have made the USA their home. Using their insight and unique understanding of the global world we live in to discuss culture, lifestyle, Geo politics and the day to day on-goings of this proud and powerful nation.