This research paper analyzes how modern Peruvian gastronomy has been influenced by the Incan civilization during the 15th century, and at the beginning of the 16th century. This paper depicts how Inca customs have been passed through centuries and are still present in Peru gastronomically. Our research is based on a trip we, a group of 10th grade students of Colegio Menor, went on during February 2017, at the beginning of the school’s second semester. We researched one week prior to the trip at Ecuador, and then at Peru when we arrived. Furthermore, we took advantage of the trip by researching our topic while at Peru to enrich our knowledge about Inca gastronomy, so we could then compare it to modern Peruvian cuisine. After researching on reliable sources such as articles in EBSCOHOST, we were able to develop a conclusion based on the background information we collected. In Peru, we were able to interact with local people, and observe primary sources to complement our research. Our work intends to inform people about the importance the Inca civilization still has on the Peruvian culture, and how it reflects on their gastronomy.
Nighttime at Cusco City. Photo Credits: Camila Baraya
Research Question: Has the Inca civilization influenced modern Peruvian gastronomy?
Our research question is specific because it focuses on the relationship between two specific topics: modern Peruvian gastronomy and the Inca civilization. Our research question is directly related to the Inca civilization in the 16th century since our priority is to research the different ways the Incas passed on their knowledge of gastronomy to influence modern day Peruvian cuisine. This research question can be answered by analyzing resources which provide precise information about the relationship between pre-Incan and modern Peruvian gastronomy. Answering our research question leads to a discussion of how the Incas have influenced the lives of the current Peruvian citizens without being present. This discussion allows us to better understand how past civilizations can impact our lives and how we are still able to apply their customs in our daily routines.
Moray Photo Credits: Camila Baraya
Hypothesis: Due to the Incas’ exquisite food recipes and prestigious cooking skills, modern Peruvian cuisine adopted ingredients and traditional plates used by the Incas.
This hypothesis answers our research question directly and fully, by predicting how the Incas influenced Peruvian gastronomy and the reasons behind this influence. Because of the similar ingredients used by people in Peru and the Incas, such as potatoes, yucca, guinea pig, and quinoa, we devised this particular hypothesis. During the end of the 15th century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the Incas had numerous influences on the cultures of the territories they conquered. We believe that such powerful influence has continued throughout the years until today, proving that modern Peruvian cuisine adopted Inca gastronomy. Our prediction can be confirmed if our research indicates that the Peruvians are still maintaining Inca traditional food, and giving it a great importance. On the other hand, if we find out that there is no connection between Peruvian gastronomy, Inca influence on Peru, and the importance it still has on people, our hypothesis will be proven wrong.
Market at Cusco City Photo Credits: Camila Baraya
Research Methods: By carefully gathering evidence, analyzing background information, interacting with local people, and tasting Peruvian food, we were able to observe the impact that Inca gastronomy has on Peru’s current cuisine.
To answer our research question, prior to our trip, we thoroughly collected evidence about how Peruvian cuisine has been influenced by Incan gastronomy. With the data collected, we researched each dish individually and gathered information about their ingredients with internet sources. This was done during our one week of in-class research, using powerful references such as articles in the online database: EBSCO HOST, to find reliable information on our topic. We used the following keywords to find concrete information on the site: Peruvian gastronomy, Cusco, Incan civilization, culture and Peru; this made our research topic specific and clear.
During the trip to Peru, we were able to use primary sources to deepen our research. While in Cusco, we had the opportunity to taste traditional Peruvian dishes at local restaurants. This helped us further prove our hypothesis since we were able to compare and contrast the ingredients in each dish with the information about Inca gastronomy we had researched before. We enriched our knowledge of Peruvian gastronomy by talking to local chefs from restaurants we visited, and also natives of the area, such as guides. We were able to ask the locals in Cusco that work in the fields about crops, trade, goods and how their work reflects Peru’s unique gastronomy.
Museum at Cusco Photo Credits: Camila Baraya
Conclusion: There is no definitive proof of the Inca civilization inspiring or influencing modern Peruvian cuisine, yet some food customs have been passed from generation to generation.
We must reject our hypothesis because Peruvian cuisine does not specifically show whether the Inca civilization has influenced Peruvian modern gastronomy. However, we can prove that our hypothesis retains some validity because most of the products used today in Peruvian dishes were also used by the Incas. While we fail to substantiate the first claim within our hypothesis, we can affirm our hypothesis’ second claim that there is a resemblance between modern Peruvian food and Incan gastronomy.
After having visited local markets, we are able to make assertions about different dishes, such as papas a la huancaina (potatoes with a yellow sauce made with cheese and pepper), ceviche (seafood dish), and causas (dish containing potatoes, tuna, onions, cheese, and avocado), including ingredients used by the Incas. For instance, there is a dish called Chiri Uchu that is still used traditionally and was also offered to the Incas during a holiday called Corpus Cristi (Teddy, n.d). This plate consists of a variety of cold meats like guinea pig, hen, sausage, and other side ingredients like eggs and corn (Teddy, n.d). This shows that Peruvians adhere to some of the Inca customs, and that this dish includes a variety of products used by the Incas, such as guinea pig and corn. In addition, in the Andes, there is a variety of quinoa, potatoes, and other crops that grow at different altitudes (Simeon 2016). This confirms the second claim in our hypothesis to be true, since it is evident that Peru shares similar ingredients with the Incas and applies them in it’s cuisine. Our visit to Cusco taught us that Peru has its own unique gastronomy, yet they still have a resemblance with the Incas in terms of the products they use to create their dishes.
Analyzing food in Cusco helped us deepen our research even more. During our visit, we saw how Peruvian culture is reflected through the Inca culture, focusing mainly on Peru’s food. We concluded this when we saw the resemblance of Peruvian culture and food in one of the most recognized local markets named San Pedro. The most popular ingredients were guinea pig, potato, corn, and beans. At a restaurant named El Meson, there was a salad that contained cauliflower, sweet carrot, onion, pepper, and chochos, which were common products used by the Incan cultures as well. This dish characterizes Peruvian gastronomy and it is a dish people have been eating for centuries in Peru (Peru Food and Gastronomy, n.d.). Consequently, it has become Cusco’s traditional salad. The evidence gathered about this salad helps us partially prove our hypothesis.
After revealing many of the specific and traditional ingredients used by the natives of Peru and the Incas, dishes like guinea pig and the typical salads of the area show many of the customs and traditions the Incas had that are still being used today. Many of the dishes that are now served in Peru were not served by the Incas, since not all dishes are inspired or influenced by pre-colonial Peruvian gastronomy. On the other hand, many products used by the Inca civilization are still used today to create Peruvian plates. This shows how cooking techniques and ingredients such as crops like corn and meats like guinea pig have been passed from generation to generation. After our research, we concluded that not all of the ingredients used in Peruvian food were included in the Inca cuisine, so we focused on the ones that were mainly used by the Incas like potatoes, corn, and yucca (Peru Food and Gastronomy, n.d.). These products are still used today and clearly show a resemblance between modern day Peru gastronomy and Inca cuisine. It is surprising to analyze how the Incas are still part of Peruvian life, and how some of their culture is still present in Peruvians’ everyday life.
Machu Pichu. Photo Credits: Anabella Roman
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