From what plants and animals are considered edible to the complex rules surrounding festivities and community celebrations, food expresses cultural values and identity. What we eat, how we prepare it, how we present it, and with whom we eat it all contribute to a larger experience.
In Peru, el fogón is the part of the kitchen where the fire is built, the central hearth around which all cooking activities revolve. Traditionally, the fogón is where family members and friends gather to eat, share, and keep warm. At the Festival, the kitchen stage is where cooks from different regions of Peru demonstrated specialties from their communities. Cooks talked about ingredients, traditional preparation, the varied contexts of different dishes, and more.
Performers from Paucartambo prepared the feast accompanying the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, fisherman from Huanchaco dried charqui de raya (stingray jerky), and craftspeople from Ayacucho cooked up cuy (Andean rodent), among many other sessions.
On Festival Community Days, home cooks and chefs from the Washington, D.C., area presented their variations of Peruvian foodways. Special sessions covered Asian-Peruvian cuisine and pachamanca (underground barbecue) as it is made in the United States.