A traditional Peruvian Christmas meal often includes roast turkey and Waldorf salad, as prepared here by Peruvian Blogger Gretchen Jones de Bardales. (Photo/Gretchen Jones de Bardales)

Food blogs we love: Provecho Peru

Who’s blogging: Gretchen Jones de Bardales, cooking in my Peruvian kitchen and blogging at Provecho Peru. I moved to Peru from California almost 10 years ago, although my move was originally “for just one year.” Almost 2 years ago, I married a Peruvian, so now I am here to stay! My passion for cooking started very early in life and has continued and only grown stronger since being here in Peru. When I begin to talk about the foods, the ingredients, the chefs, the recipes found here in Peru, my eyes light up and I begin to talk very fast, as if I have way more to say that words to communicate it.

Explain your blog name: When I first started blogging, I chose the name Canela & Comino, a name I felt encompassed the combination of interesting flavors; represented the cultures I was cooking from at the time and leaned to both dinner and dessert. This all started while I was living in Peru, helping to film a traveling cooking show, and exploring the flavors and recipes of the Peruvian culture. My aspirations include making Peruvian recipes available in English, providing information about cooking comfort food to expats living in Peru and developing a line of signature Peruvian cupcakes. In almost every Latin country, food is served accompanied by the words “Buen Provecho!” or shortened simply to “Provecho!” The true meaning of provecho is “benefit” or “advantage.” By starting Provecho Peru, I am inviting you to Enjoy Peru – whether you live in Peru or somewhere else in the world. Enjoy the many flavors, the richness of the culture, the colorful markets and the history behind them all.

Blogging since: Provecho Peru was started in the fall of 2011, but contains posts and recipes that were once on Canela & Comino, which was started in 2006.

Blogging from: Lima, Peru in South America

Blogger Gretchen Jones de Bardales whips up Peruvian specialties in her kitchen.

Blogger Gretchen Jones de Bardales whips up Peruvian specialties in her kitchen.

Most popular post: Some of the most popular posts have been Peruvian Quinoa Soup, Beef with Mushroom Gravy and Peruvian Chicken Potato Stew. Some of the most pinned recipes have been Extra Fudgy Brownies and Pisco Sour Cupcakes.

What you’ve learned about food while blogging: Food in Peru is so diverse, interesting and flavorful. The process of cooking here is so different from what I am used to. I have seen how food grows and is processed. I have read cookbooks where I have discovered new techniques. Additionally, I have learned how my comfort foods can be re-created here in Peru. Overall, food makes people happy – I love sharing the things I make and bake with others.

Where do you get inspiration for your posts? Inspiration starts with a library of Peruvian cookbooks and a long list of Peruvian Foods that I intend to make or bake. The creative dishes that abound here are plenty of inspiration. I taste one thing and then I plan to make another. I also dream up how I can make Peruvian drinks and desserts into cupcakes. There seems to be constant inspiration all around me, what I lack is time to make it all!

Where else can we find you online?  You can find Provecho Peru on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even YouTube! Photos are featured on FoodGawker, Tastespotting, Foodepix, and Tasteologie. The Pisco Sour Cupcakes were featured on Food Network UK.

What are some of your favorite Peruvian holiday traditions?  Throughout the month of December, chocolatadas are hosted for children to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, a slice of paneton bread and sometimes even a toy. One of the things that I am still getting used to is eating dinner at midnight on Christmas Eve just after the city fireworks are enjoyed. Children and adults alike stay up all night and rest most of the day of the 25th.

New Years has a few more traditions that are worth noting. Yellow clothing is sold on every street corner because wearing yellow underwear for New Years is said to bring good luck in the year to come. For each month of the New Year, you sit under a table and you eat a grape (12 in total) and make a wish for that month.

People also pack a suitcase full of clothes and run around the block if you want to travel in the new year. Finally, you will see life-sized dolls around town wearing old clothes. These are burned on New Years Eve to get rid of the “old” and bring in the “new.”

What Peruvian holiday foods do you love eating and preparing annually? Christmas comes in the summer months here in Peru and I am always amazed by the fact that most well-known Christmas foods are Peruvian Drinking Chocolate & Paneton Bread. I also look forward to the traditional turkey dinner that is served at midnight on Christmas Eve. This year I will be serving this along with a Waldorf Salad. Several families also serve special Christmas rice dishes or applesauce on the Christmas table. I am still learning about what is traditional in different families for the holidays!

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