Recipes —just like traditions— are passed down from generation to generation so as not to be lost over the course of time. In Peruvian gastronomy, this is scrupulously observed. A wide range of Peruvian dishes —both sweet and savory— have a method of preparation that dates back primarily to the colonial era.
Ranfañote, for example, is a dish filled with history. This pudding —considered to be one of the oldest in Peru— is made with toasted bread, grated coconut, chancaca syrup, walnuts, raisins and pecans. Generous chunks of cheese are added to the mixture, forming a stimulating contrast of flavors.
A bit of history
It used to be considered a delicacy of the poor, appearing during the Viceroyalty period (between the 16th and 19th centuries), based on the custom that the slaves who lived in Lima had of eating stale bread soaked in molasses. For that reason, the upper class considered it to be a "common" dessert.
Pamela Cartagena, granddaughter of Agustina Reyes Ballumbrosio (considered in Chincha to be the absolute queen of this dessert), says that there are two theories about its origin: the first theory says that it was created by the African slaves from their hometown; and the second one argues that it originated during the War of the Pacific, which took place in the 19th century.
"It is said that the leftover food from the masters was combined to feed the slaves, but there are also references to soldiers being given toast and cheese as their rations during the war with Chile. It has now become a delicious dessert," she says.
There was a moment when ranfañote was almost forgotten. However, descendants of those who mastered the recipe are making great efforts to continue the legacy. It can be found in different forms at the food fair located on Alameda Chabuca Granda, along the Rímac River, as well as in the Santa Rosa confectioner's, located in the Magdalena del Mar district.
How to make it?
Use four rolls of bread (preferably French bread) left over from the day before, cut them into cubes and toast them in a pan coated with butter. When they're ready, set them aside in a container.
Then, place 2 spoonfuls of chancaca syrup, 3 cloves, ½ teaspoon of aniseed and 1 piece of orange peel in a pot with 1 cup of water. Mix all the ingredients and boil them until the mixture gains a syrup-like consistency.
Then, place the bread and other ingredients in a bowl: 4.4 oz of pecans, walnuts and coconut (all previously toasted and chopped), 3.5 oz of raisins (golden and dark) and 3.5 oz of chopped paria cheese. Mix everything together, add the syrup and mix again. This recipe is intended to serve four.
Other desserts with history
Mazamorra morada (purple pudding) and arroz con leche (rice pudding) are desserts that every Peruvian has tasted. The first —according to historical data— was prepared during the pre-Columbian era; it was initially made with yellow corn and known as "motalsa" or "ishkupcha". Then, during the Viceroyalty period, cinnamon, quince, sugar and cloves were added to the recipe. Years later it was changed to purple corn and nuts and sweet potato flour were added. It was only eaten during the procession of the Lord of Miracles.
Rice pudding was brought by the Spanish. It was initially prepared with honey, but when they arrived in Peru they changed the recipe. Arroz Zambito comes from this pudding: made with molasses, grated coconut and orange peel. Picarones also have Spanish influence, as they are an adaptation of classic Spanish buñuelos. In Peru, the dough was made with pumpkin and sweet potato, and honey or chancaca syrup was used for the sweet sauce.
Sources: Andina/ Perú Gastronomía/ Perú 21/ Perú.com/ El Comercio