West Miami-Dade

Festival celebrates Peruvian culture

 

gortega@MiamiHerald.com

Far from their homeland, hundreds of Peruvians living in South Florida celebrated 192 years of their independence from Spain on Sunday with a festival of music and food.

Cured ceviche, anticuchos, ají de gallina and suspiros limeños were some of the typical dishes and desserts the participants enjoyed.

With Peruvian waltzes as background music, guests stood in line to enjoy the diverse cuisine.

Some donned the red and white colors of the Peruvian flag while others wore t-shirts or caps with the name of their country.

Nearly 30 booths were there selling dishes, handcrafted items and products from the South American country. “ Viva Perú,” a female entertainer repeatedly cheered.

The event took place at the Miami Airport Convention Center, which for the first time hosted a festival celebrating that country’s Independence Day, according to Nikol Seitner, one of the organizers, who was born in Lima.

“The Independence Day Festival serves to give a Peruvian feeling to those who no longer live there and also to teach the little ones to love their country,” Seitner said.

She and a group of 20 volunteers, with support from the Peruvian Consulate, were in charge of inviting all Peruvians living in South Florida.

The ceviche was one of the favorite dishes, not only for Peruvians but for guests from other countries as well. John Reynolds came all the way from Naples to taste the dish.

“The last ceviche I tasted was the best. I love the flavor,” said Reynolds who accompanied his friend Viviana Cisneros, who came to the United States 13 years ago from Chimbote, in northern Peru.

Doral’s Cuban-born deputy mayor Bettina Rodríguez also attended. “I have many Peruvian friends. They are very ingenious people and are a model to the community,” she said.

Lilia Ramírez, who has lived in Miami more than 20 years, attended with her husband and two children. “I cook Peruvian dishes once a week because we miss the food.”

Luis Rivera, from Puerto Rico, danced holding a pisco sour drink. He came with his Peruvian neighbors in Sunrise. “I love Peruvian food and the people are very friendly.”

Everyone agreed that Peruvian cuisine is becoming more popular every day. Enrico Ferrari, who represented Mixtura, one of the restaurants participating in the festival, said Peruvian food is also healthy. “Right now there is an international boom of Peruvian food. It is delicious, but it’s also healthy because it has no additives.”

The festival, which gathered entire families from Peruvian communities in Miami-Dade, Broward and other counties, lasted 11 hours.

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