A saying often said in the restaurants of Lima is that Peruvian food is the French Cuisine of South America. In the Peruvian population you will find large Spanish and African influences, Asiatic cultures and ingredients, and flavors of spices similar to India.
The only way to truly understand such a historic marriage of ingredients in Peru is to go to the beautiful country of Peru, or come and get a Taste of Peru right in Chicago.
In 1974, Cesar Izquierdo left Peru to come to the United States to make a better life for his family and himself. While Cesar may have left Peru, Peru never left him, to everyone he would meet he would describe the beauty, sites, smells and foods of Peru. He would tell about Macchu Picchu, the Nazca lines, the Amazon jungle and the exotic seafood of the coast. Soon after leaving Peru he adjusted to the United States, but he still missed his homeland. Finding Peruvian food in Chicago was no easy task. Cesar would seek out any Peruvian restaurant he could find sampling the menu, but only to be disappointed that the food was an Americanized version of the food his mother would make.
For a short time he had a Peruvian shop. There he sold spinning tops, sweaters, and artifacts from Peru. It started there, as he made his first attempt to bring true Peruvian food to Chicago. His friends would come to play a Peruvian game called "Sapo". Sapo is a game where you throw heavy brass counts into different compartments of a box. The compartments have different point values, the hardest toss and the highest point is into the mouth of a frog (Sapo in spanish) that sits at top of the box. They would start playing to 1,000 point and before they knew it, to 50,000 points and well into the night. Cesar would set up a grill and start making Anticuchos, a type of Peruvian shish kabob made from marinated beef heart. His friends loved them and people that were walking by stopped and offered to buy them.
Later on, Cesar got married, started a family, and sadly closed the Peruvian Shop to take a job with the City of Chicago. Cesar and his family made many trips to Peru and are still going today, gathering menus, sampling food, studying spices and cooking techniques, but mainly exploring and taking a good vacation. And finally on July 29, 1998, from the humble beginnings with a small shop, a frog and anticuchos, Cesar Izquierdo and his family would come to open Taste of Peru, thus, realizing his dream of bringing Peruvian food to Chicago. And now Cesar can enjoy the colors, smells, foods and music of Peru just 2 blocks away from his house. With live music during the week, it's not uncommon to see him dancing with the costumers to the lively Peruvian music.