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Monday, July 20, 2015

Peruvian Japanese Nikkei

Peru has a history of Japanese immigration. Starting in the early 1900s, several waves of poor Japanese laborers emigrated in search of work to this land "full of gold" that had a mild climate and rich soil.

Today, the influence of Japanese immigration in Peruvian culture is still felt most especially in the country's food. It has given birth to a cuisine known as Nikkei, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese, which has become a gastronomic sensation in Europe, or so they say. I had never heard of it.

Of course, the wife and I had to have a sample on our recent trip to Lima. On a friend's tip, we went to Osaka, where we tried some of the most unique and memorable dishes we've had for a while: ceviche with raw tuna, lime, and cilantro; sushi with crunchy bits of quinoa; then nigiri coated with butter and bits of truffle (okay, maybe this last one isn't exactly Peruvian), and others. But I've found there's truth in the way wikipedia puts it: the flavors brought "together the best of the elegant and delicate cuisine of Japan with the freshness and spicy punch of Peru."

I kept thinking about how people fear immigration might lead to some cultural deterioration. Well does it? There's nothing scientific about the above observations. However, Nikkei is yet another example to me, that if food is any evidence, immigration leads to anything but cultural deterioration.


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