Lima, the capital of Peru, is a sprawling metropolis of about 10 million people.
Known as the “city of kings”, it was founded by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and became an important centre of the Spanish empire in South America.
Over generations, people from around the world have settled in the vibrant city, resulting in a mix of cultures and cuisines.
Previously Lima was not much more than a transit point for tourists going to the ancient city of Cusco and the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu. But the tourism industry has grown and tourists are spending more time and money in Lima’s restaurants.
Peru’s economy may be booming and the status of the nation’s cuisine on the rise, but poverty is still rife. Gloria Villanueva Reyes is one of thousands of women working in Peru’s many community kitchens providing the poor with food.
“I am proud that our food is now famous but I feel bad at the same time because there are too many people who don’t have the chance to eat it. If it would reach everybody, happiness would be complete. Unfortunately, we only see those recipes on television,” she says.
Peru is a country full of contradictions and it is struggling to define its modern self. But with the emergence of cooking schools across the country, many young Peruvians hope to be able to contribute to the new wave of Andean cuisine and create a new gastronomic future for their families and their country.
So are Peru’s culinary traditions the key to a better future?
Editor’s note: This film was first broadcast on Al Jazeera English in 2008.
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