Chances are, you've never eaten cuy, the classic Andean entree of fried guinea pig. Or watched as children from the Long Island dance group Peru Andino perform Peruvian folk dances. Or dug into pachamanca, a meat-and-potatoes barbecue that's cooked in a hole in the ground topped with hot rocks, a liner and dirt. On Saturday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 16, you'll have a chance to learn what you've been missing at the Sumaq Peruvian Food Festival at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. Spokeswoman Silvana Diaz, whose family founded the event five years ago, said the festival will host more than 20 food exhibitors from both Peru and the New York metropolitan area.
"Our cuisine is very diverse," Diaz said, noting that Peruvian food takes in Chinese, African, American, Italian, Japanese and also indigenous influences. (The name of the festival, Sumaq, means "delicious" in the indigenous language of Quechua.) "We can see how popular Peruvian food is by the increase in Peruvian restaurants throughout the tristate area, including Long Island," Diaz added.
At the festival, you'll get a chance to watch as Peruvian pros show you how to cook at demos scheduled to run both days from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Chef Jhonatan Bueno Larrazabal will demonstrate how to make lomo saltado, a stir-fry of beef, vegetables and fried potatoes. And nutritionist Paola Franchini will hold a discussion on the benefits of quinoa. But the main attraction will be this year's "Face of Sumaq," chef Miguel Aguilar, who owns the Brooklyn restaurant Surfish Bistro. The Lima-born Aguilar, a recent finalist on Esquire Network's "Knife Fight," is being honored for his work representing Peruvian culinary arts in the United States. A specialty of his is ceviche. "I want to show how versatile ceviche is," said Aguilar, who will demonstrate the salmon ceviche he made on a "Knife Fight" challenge that required him to use such oddball ingredients as squid ink and chicken skin.
Ceviche is also a forte of Long Island's Boris Torres, chef-owner of Manka Peruvian Kitchen in Glen Cove. Last year, Torres took first place at the festival's ceviche judging. He's hoping, this year, to defend his title with the same version made with corvina, a firm white fish he gets from Florida.
Other Long Island Peruvian food spots represented at the festival will be La Limena Bakery of Island Park, which will be offering a variety of Peruvian desserts, and Valentino's Peruvian Restaurant of Bay Shore. Valentino's owner Wilfredo "Mickey" Zacarias will, in fact, be both selling and demonstrating pachamanca. At the festival, as well as at his restaurant, he makes it with chicken, pork, beef, humitas (a corn masa mixture) and potatoes. Everything is cooked in a portable outdoor oven placed in a pit and covered with dirt and rocks, pretty close to the way it's done in Peru's highlands.
Food from that region, along with the rain forest area, will be well-represented at the festival. "Generally, people know what's on the coast, where the big cities like Lima are," said Torres. Here, then, is a chance to try something new and different.
But the event isn't only about food. You'll also be able to get a taste of Peruvian music and dance. And, if you're really lucky, you may win a round-trip to Peru via Avianca to experience the country itself.
When: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15 and 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Garden City