The offerings — and potential for adventure — are immense when it comes to our Peru cooking vacations. While the country may perhaps be best known as the home to Machu Picchu, it’s expansive land mass offers much more than that too. That’s what husband and wife Phillipe and Martina discovered a few years ago after traveling abroad. They now call the beautiful Amazonas region, which is surrounded by a cloud forest, their home. Learn more about this wonderful couple, who will make sure you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience when visiting for their northern Peru cooking vacation in the Amazonas or during Colors and Flavors of Northern Peru.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your history as tour guides/leaders.
We are a French-German couple and were for over 11 years the owners and managers of a 4-star hotel with restaurant and cooking classes in Provence in Southern France. This is how we met The International Kitchen. Already in 2004 we had started culinary tours, where Philippe accompanied our guests to the local wineries, olive oil tastings or artists.
At the end of 2011 we made a major change to our life, left France, and travelled for several years with our two boys in Asia, the US, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. In the first days of the year 2015, we arrived in Northern Peru, more exactly the region of Amazonas. The northern regions offer a wide range of archaeological pre-Incan civilizations, beautiful nature (two of the world’s highest waterfalls are in Amazonas), endemic bird species, and wonderful people.
We stayed in Amazonas and decided to promote the development of sustainable and ethical tourism in northern Peru. We travel regularly to find new places for visitors to stay, taste new restaurants, or get to know another initiative for rural tourism. All our knowledge goes into the tours we create.
Although Peru is called the new culinary destination of the world, culinary tours outside of Lima or the Cusco area are rather new. Local people felt very proud when we asked them to share their recipes with us. Tamales or Juanes (rice or yucca paste stuffed with chicken or meat, closed up in big biajo leafs and cooked for about 3 hours) are a traditional dish.
On the other hand, food lovers from Lima come to live in Amazonas, open their hotels and restaurants and bring a more internationalized flavor to the existing cuisine. Fusion cuisine such as Quinotto (like a Risotto, but with Quinua) is very popular.
It is our pleasure to share these experiences and be a bridge between foreign travelers, interested in learning more about the Peruvian culture through their cuisine and the local people, eager to share their traditions and recipes.
What about Peru drew you to the country, and why did you decide to offer a tour in the northern part of Peru, versus the cities?
Peru is a fascinating country – and it is also very very big. Not only in miles, but also in hours to travel. As the Andes cut Peru in two, travel takes up a lot of time during a trip to Peru.
We came to Peru after having lived in Costa Rica for 9 months. Costa Rica is beautiful and has a lot of nature, but we missed the culture part – and the north of Peru gives us both of it! There are not only pre-inca civilizations on the coast or in the Amazonas region, but also endemic birds such as the spatuletail hummingbird that you can only find here.
We now live in Chachapoyas, the capital of Amazonas, and it just came naturally to us to promote the interesting archaeological sites and spectacular nature of this region. Amazonas is home to 2 of the highest waterfalls in the world as well as to several ruins from the Chachapoya culture that are far older than any Inca ruins that you could find in the south of Peru.
In comparison to the south, the north of Peru is still untouched tourist territory – there are many things to explore and it is definitely off-the-beaten-path travel. We love to share our knowledge and show travelers from abroad all the wonders of the Amazonas region.
What is your favorite Peruvian dish and/or drink?
Well, I guess our favorite dish is the Lomo Saltado, sliced beef prepared with sliced onions and tomatoes, served with rice. Otherwise, we love Ceviche – a real tasty fresh ceviche (raw fish served with spicy sauce with onions, accompanied with sweet potatoes and corn) that you usually have to eat for lunch. In the good restaurants at the coast, you won’t find a Ceviche for diner. Here in Amazonas, 10 hours away from the coast, the best Ceviche you can get is Ceviche de Trucha, Trout Ceviche.
As a drink, many readers might know already the Pisco Sour, but you also have a Chilcano which is made as well by Pisco and infused herbs. You can find a Chilcano Mint or Eucalyptus for example.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone visiting South America for the first time?
Visit one country, maybe even just one region at a time! As already mentioned above, South America is a huge continent. If you want to get a little closer to the people and their culture, take your time! Travel slowly, eat at street restaurants, take time to talk to people and maybe even immerse into their lifestyle for a while.
Be prepared to adapt, things in South America usually never turn out as you thought at the beginning. Weather and road conditions can be unpredictable. Pack all kind of layered clothing, as you might pass from freezing in the mountains to summer heat on the coast.
What do you hope people learn and discover during your cooking vacation?
We hope that people will fall in love with Peru! A beautiful country with different faces due to the different climate zones and regions. We would like people to see Peru as it is – chaotic, overwhelming and cheerful.
Meet Martina and Philippe during this exclusive northern Peru cooking vacations, travel around the Amazonas cloud forest, and see ancient sites that you can only access by foot — all while enjoying some fabulous food through cooking classes and more!
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