Around Town: A Taste of Peru

The 49th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival highlights the rich culture of Peru.

By Diba Mohtasham

Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone

Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone (Photo by Diba Mohtasham)

Each year during the hottest time in the summer season, D.C. becomes alive with culture and tradition. Both locals and tourists have the opportunity to travel to another world through the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, all without paying the price of a plane ticket.  The 2015 theme focused on incredible Peru, one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The festival is held in the heart of the city at the National Mall and runs through Sunday, July 5. Fittingly, this year’s festival is set next to the National Museum of the American Indian, highlighting Peru’s native Inca culture.

The event is colorful in every way–from the people to the exhibits themselves. While the attendees are diverse, they each share one thing in common: a love of culture and stories. There is a place for people with all kinds of interests, whether it be cooking, dance, art, music, human rights, or something else. The festival also holds various demonstrations, performances, processions and discussions.

Over by the food concessions are the Peruvian Brothers, Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone, who have become something of local celebrities after their food truck was named “Best Food Truck” of 2015 in the D.C. area. The brothers grew up in La Punta, Peru, and while they never planned to go into the food industry, they have always had a passion for healthy, Peruvian food. “Our dream was to open something together, whether a bar, a lounge, a restaurant–something together,” said Giuseppe. With Mario’s background captaining yachts in the Mediterranean and Giuseppe’s accomplishments as an Olympic rower, the duo bring a variety of talent and skill to their successful business.

During the festival, they partnered with Avocados from Peru (AFP) and wanted to dedicate one of the dishes to them. So they created the exclusive dish for the festival called Avocado and Quinoa Salad, which includes half of a full avocado, mixed vegetables, and quinoa– all straight from Peru. The dish is a harmonic balance between freshness and flavor, but the real reason why it’s so unique is because Peruvian avocados only grow four months out of the year.

“Peru is a virtual greenhouse because its weather conditions are optimal for growing avocados, which are at their peak during the summer months,” said Xavier Equihua, president and CEO of the Peruvian Avocado Commission (PAC). “Peruvian avocados are larger in size as they are grown in the coastal areas and irrigated with fresh water from the Andes.”

PAC supplied Peruvian Brothers with 2,400 pounds of avocados, which would be approximately 4,800 servings of their featured avocado and quinoa salad, according to Equihua.

“Peruvian food is something that is growing and growing every day, and I would recommend everybody to start tasting it little by little because I can’t think of anything that I don’t like about Peruvian gastronomy,” said Giuseppe.

The Lanzone brothers are thrilled to be a part of the festival. “This is definitely a good experience for us because it makes us believe in ourselves more–that we can do something like this,” said Mario. “I’m just happy that people are finally starting to see Peru as a country with a lot of background and cultural things to do.”

Follow Peruvian Brothers on Twitter @PeruBrothers and visit www.peruvianbrothers.com

For more information about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, visit http://www.festival.si.edu/

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