Feasts and Cuisine of Iquitos
Feasts of Iquitos
San Juan Feast: June 24th - In the jungle, Saint John the Baptist has taken on a major symbolic significance because of the importance of water as a vital element in the entire Amazon region. This is why June 24 (St. John's the Baptist's day) is the most important date on the festival calendar in the entire Peruvian jungle. The northeastern city of Iquitos hosts a variety of festivals and public events: fiestas with typical local bands where cooks dish up some of the regional cuisine, featuring tacacho (baked banana) and juanes (rice pastries), named after the patron saint, San Juan Bautista. This carnival atmosphere, redolent with the warmth of the local hospitality, has given rise to the myth of a special sensuality to be found in Loreto. It is widely held that the best aphrodisiacs are concocted in Iquitos, potions blended from fruits and herbs steeped in sugarcane alcohol, with strange and suggestive names. The best-known is without a doubt the chuchuhuasi, fermented from a local root.
- Iquitos Tourist Week (June 21-27). Celebrations centered around the central feast day of San Juan every June 24.
Food in the Amazon is full of exotic delicacies. Chonta or palm tree heart salad is a delicious entrée. Meats and plantains are ever present in the main dishes, like grilled banana plantains (tacacho) with deep-fried beef (cecina) served with chopped onions and dried meat, or stuffed bananas, a banana dough stuffed with beef and peanuts.
Fowl, fish and wild meat are indispensable ingredients in preparing "juanes" (rice dough stuffed with chicken and wrapped in banana leaves for cooking), grilled "picuro" (delicious wild meat), "apishado" or pork cooked in a peanut and corn sauce, and "patarashca" fish wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over a fire.
Soups include "inchicapi" chicken soup with peanuts, coriander and manioc and "carachama" fish soup cooked also with banana plantain and coriander.
Aguajina is a refreshing drink made from the "aguaje" a jungle fruit, while "masato" is a fermented manioc and sugar beer. "Chuchuhuasi" is a fermented beer made from the chuchuhuasi root, "uvachado" is prepared with grapes and "chapo" is a cooked banana, water and milk beverage.
Source: Peru Mucho Gusto.
When you arrive to Iquitos you will be able to enjoy a great cuisine on the base of a great variety of regional products, such as meats of species as the deer or the majás, fish like the "paiche" or the "dorado" (fish variety), exotic fruits, etc.
The main and most traditional popular plates are:
Pottage made with rice, pieces of poultry meat, eggs, olives, aromatic herbs and spices, all wrapped up in bijao leaves (plant from the jungle) leaves and boiled in clay pots. The Juane, is one of the main dishes of cuisine of the Peruvian jungle. It is widely consumed during the Catholic Feast of San Juan (St. John), held on 24 June each year. The dish was named in honor of San Juan Bautista. The dish could have a pre-Columbian origin. With the arrival of the Spanish, missionaries popularized the Biblical story of Salome, John and Herodias. Some believe the dish's name comes from the reference to the head of San Juan.
Of similar characteristic to the juanes, the only difference is that they are made with chicken meat and they are roasted.
Tacacho is made from sliced plaintain,which is fried,then mashed with chicharones (fried pork fat). It usually accompanied with chorizo (fried sausage) making it a savory combination. The dish is typical of Iquitos as well as the Peruvian Amazon.
Exquisite soup preppared with peanut, pieces of poultry meat, aromatic herbs and spices. Exquisite soup prepared with peanut, pieces of poultry meat, aromatic herbs and spices.
Kind of stew prepared with "Charapa" (Turtle variety) meat, spiced with onions, garlic, green banana, and spices. The final cooking of the stew is made in the shell of the turtle and it is served in the same shell.
There are a great variety of presentations and the "paiche" is recommended (fish of more than 2 m. length and 130 kg. weight) the zúngaro, the dorado, that are those of finer and exquisite meat. You can try them in cebiche (raw fish marinated and cooked in lemon juice), roasted, or in stews.
You must try the one prepared with "chonta" (kind of palm tree) or palmettos.
Yucca donuts, and great quantity of regional fruits for refreshing drinks as cocona, camu camu, maracuyá, pineaple, aguaje, carambola, ijuayo, etc., also ice creams of these fruits.
Iquitos is also famed by the variety of its liquors and beverages, prepared with the maceration of herbs, wood and other regional elements that are known to have an aphrodisiac character.
The beverages are "chuchuhuasi", "pusanga", "chamico", "siete raices" (seven roots), "huitochado", "uvachado", "masato", RC "rompe calzón", etc.