Boulder Spanish Meetup! Message Board › 12th Annual Peruvian Festival in Longmont
On Sunday, July 29th, there will be a "Festival Peruano" at Sandstone Ranch, on Highway 119, just east of Longmont. The Peruvian festival begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends around 5:00 p.m., to celebrate Peruvian Independence Day (which is actually the 28th). It is the Peruvian equivalent of a 4th of July picnic, complete with Andean music and dancing, and an assemblage of food vendors selling traditional Peruvian foods and beverages. There are also crafts vendors. The festival provides an ideal opportunity to mix with native Spanish speakers in a festive atmosphere where non-native Spanish speakers are welcome to participate, eat , drink, and practice their Spanish skills.
Aside from the music and demonstrations of Peruvian folk dance, this has always been an "eating" event for me, so I note that lines at the food vendors begin to form by 11:30 a.m. and by 12:30 p.m. they become quite long. Those interested in authentic Peruvian food should keep the lines in mind when timing their arrivals.
The foods include grilled meats and fish, many rice and potato dishes, and a few sweet desserts. The charcoal grilled fish vender told me last year that his trout were caught in Lake Titicaca on the border between Perú and Bolivia, and shipped to Colorado for the festival, which I was inclined to doubt, but the trout seemed larger and tastier than what we usually find in Colorado supermarkets, so he may not have been joking. Peruvians love jokes.
Two dishes worth trying are "papas a la huancaína," a cold potato salad in a sauce of bright yellow ají amarillo (yellow chili peppers), hard boiled eggs, black olives and slices of queso fresco (salty white artisan cheese), and "picarones," which are hand-formed sweet potato doughnuts, topped with caramel sauce. Portions are usually more than generous. Among the grilled meats, you can find "anticuchos," brochettes of corazón de vaca (beef hearts) seasoned with achiote (annato seed) and chilis, and "adobo," which is a spicy pork soup, seasoned with garlic and a variety of chilies, served with potatoes. The food vendors in years past also featured a variety of chicken dishes, and the ubiquitous boiled "choclo" (huge ears of Andean corn).
Two classic Peruvian dishes notably absent in prior years are "lomo saltado" (beef tenderloin saute) and "rocoto relleno," (stuffed chili peppers). If I don't find these this year, I'm going to track down the festival promoter and offer to cook them myself next year, if that's permissible. Lomo saltado is a form of "chifa," a fusion cuisine best described as Chinese food prepared from native Andean ingredients. A "rocoto" pepper is red, blazing hot, about the size of a small tomato, stuffed with beef, rice, onions and whatever else the cook can find. Although rocoto relleño can be found all over Perú, it is a specialty of the dry, Pacific coastal town of Ariquipa, where the rocotos grow as hot as the three 19,000 foot active volcanos which overhang the city.
Various small Peruvian bands with male and female vocalists played huayno and other folk and dance music last year. Demonstrations of Peruvian folk dance go on all day long. Seating is limited, so think about bringing a cushion or blanket to sit on the ground, and since shade is scarce in the music area, think about wearing suntan lotion, and a sombrero or other hat with a large brim. Many Peruvians make the festival a picnic day with ground cloths, coolers, lawn chairs and large umbrellas. Beer and soft drinks are available. For the beer enthusiast, I recommend "Cusqueña," the local beer of Cusco, the ancient capital of the old Inca empire.
Try it out. Consider it a South American picnic. Plan to stay a couple hours for the food and music. Parking is free and plentiful. -Ed Sejud