Jennifer Fedrizzi/OC Weekly
Doesn't it seem as if food pundits have touted Peruvian food as "The Next Big Thing" for more than a decade? Back in 2011, The Wall Street Journal cited as proof the Zagat Survey listing four times more Peruvian joints than it did 10 years prior. And then there's ceviche, it says, which is showing up everywhere, even at Le Bernardin. For more evidence, it mentioned that LA went nuts over Ricardo Zarate's excellent Mo-Chica in 2009, which is true.
But ask anyone who has been eating the pollo a la brasa at the original El Pollo Inka in Lawndale or gorging on tallarín at Inka Grill or Inka Mama locally, and they'll tell you that Peruvian food's been here long before Zarate made it trendy. Still, decreeing it "The Next Big Thing" seems a bit ethnocentric, if not a little flippant about a cuisine millennia in the making. Peruvian food is a complex, multifaceted mélange of flavors, ingredients and traditions cultivated by its indigenous Quechua culture and influenced by the influx of Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and African immigrants over the past 500 years.