Food — By Isabel Guerra on October 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Picarones stalls are still a common sight in Lima, although they are gradually disappearing in upperscale districts. Picarones are a truly traditional Limenian dessert: freshly fried, golden brown, a little crunchy outside but sweet and tender inside, locals and visitors easily become unconditional fans. Official history traces their origins during the viceroyalty times, when the slaves brought from Africa  reportedly tried to create a cheaper version of the Spanish buñuelos (fried donuts). However, other versions state that the Incas already had an earlier version made with sweet potatoes and cabbage, and that this recipe may have been improved with the addition of wheat flour (introduced with the Spanish conquistadores). Some paintings dated circa 1800 depict picaroneras (women selling picarones), and the Peruvian writer Ricardo Palma describes them in his Tradiciones Peruanas, published en 1831. Nowadays they are a very well rooted tradition, specially in October, during the public celebrations of the Señor de los Milagros (“Lord of the Miracles”), patron of Lima. The picaroneras are usually women from African descent, who have learned the picarones’ secrets from their mothers and grandmothers: you are more likely to find them after 6pm, near Lima Downtown, or near any popular food market, and a serving costs as little as some S/. 2 (less than one dollar).

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