Why Are Picarones Important In Peru?

As an Amazon Associate, Eat Wine Blog earns from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

There are many things that countries value. Flags and national history, as well as places of cultural and historical importance.

Why Are Picarones Important in Peru?

There are also smaller things that are often very important to countries, such as music and folk tales, as well as national foods and drinks.

Peru is no different, and there are many places and items which Peruvians assign cultural importance to.

One item of food that the Peruvian people hold dear is that of the picarone. What are picarones, and why are they so important in Peru?

Where Is Peru?

Located in South America, Peru is a coastal nation home to a portion of the Amazon rainforest.

Peru is perhaps best known across the globe for the beautiful historical site Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel atop a 7,000 foot high mountain top.

The Republic of Peru borders Ecuador and Colombia in the north, Brazil to the east, and Chile to the south. The capital city of Peru is Lima, where almost twenty million people live.

Peru has a long history, and is in fact one of the oldest nations in the world, with societies dating back almost twelve thousand years.

The largest known ancient society in Peru is the Inca Empire which lasted for around a century.

In the 16th century, Peru was one of many South American countries colonized by the Spanish Empire.

Much of Spanish culture was imported to the nation of Peru, and a unique mix of ancient Peruvian traditions and more modern Spanish traditions can be found in the nation.

Peru officially gained independence from the Spanish viceroyalty in 1824, and has seen upturns and downturns in the years since.

Currently, Peru enjoys economic growth and low poverty, and ranks high in social freedom. It has a diverse population of indiginous Peruvians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians.

Peru is involved in political groups and trading organizations across South America, the Pacific Ocean and Asia, and more globally.

Due to the history of colonialism, many foods native to Peru and neighboring countries are now worldwide – such as potatoes and tomatoes.

Much of modern Peruvian cuisine includes inspiration from Spanish culture, as well as many other nations.

What Are Picarones?

Picarones (or picaron when singular) is a Peruvian dessert originating from the capital city Lima. The recipe was invented during the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru.

The main ingredients are a local variety of squash, called macre, and sweet potatoes. Pumpkin may also be used.

These vegetables are boiled together until they are tender, then mashed into a puree. Flour, yeast, and sugar are then often added to the puree.

This creates something similar in texture to bread dough. The dough is then deep fried in oil in the shape of a donut.

These donut-shaped picarones are doused in a special syrup made of a specially-prepared raw sugar called ‘chancaca’. Molasses or honey can also be used as part of the syrup.

The recipe originated in the capital city of Lima but soon spread throughout Peru and can now be found being prepared by every street vendor, marketplace stall, and restaurant in the country.

The recipe for picarones is very similar to that of buñuelos, a Spanish dessert food found across the world made with fried wheat dough and flavored with aniseed.

This recipe was considered too expensive to make in Peru, and so the concept (especially the donut shape) was adapted by Peruvians to include local ingredients.

There is another sweet dessert in Peru which dates before the Spanish invasion, also made of sweet potato and squash, and it is the mixing of these two dishes which created the picaron.

The recipe of the picaron was handed down through the generations, especially in Afro-Peruvian communities.

When Are Picarones Eaten In Peru?

Why Are Picarones Important in Peru

Picarones are a dessert food, meaning they will often be consumed whenever sweet foods are eaten.

It is considered traditional in Peru, however, to consume picarone after eating another national food, the anticucho.

Anticucho is a skewered meat dish, often chicken or beef, roasted with vegetables such as onions, peppers, carrots, or mushrooms, as well as pieces of Vienna sausage, and seasoned with salt and vinegar or lime juice.

Anticucho is eaten most commonly in Peru during the month of July, especially as part of the celebration of Fiestas Patrias.

This is the period of Peruvian Independence Day, celebrated on the 28th (commemorating freedom from the Spanish Empire) and the 29th (in honor of the Peruvian Armed Forces).

Fiestas Patrias is clearly very important to the Peruvian people, as it marks their freedom from the control of the Spanish.

There are many similar days of independence across the world, in which nations across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe commemorate the day they gained economic and political control.

They are important to countries as a celebration of history, national unity, and a shared destiny.

Why Are Picarones Important In Peru?

As picarones are often eaten with anticuchos, which are most commonly prepared and consumed as part of independence celebrations, it is fair to assume that picarones are also usually associated with Peruvian independence and freedom.

This makes the picaron dessert very important in Peru, as they are fiercely proud of the history and autonomy of their nation.

Peru is involved in political groups and trading organizations across South America, the Pacific Ocean and Asia, and more globally.

Therefore, to celebrate their contributions to the world and their successes as an independent country, Peruvians proudly eat national foods such as anticuchos and picarones.

Due to picarones being a Peruvian adaptation of a Spanish cuisine, this recipe represents both the Spanish and indiginous histories of Peru.

Furthermore, picarones are traditionally made by women called picaroneras. These are women who are highly skilled in the art of cooking picarones.

It is said that picaroneras would sing a song or melody whilst preparing and selling picarones, and the religious song Señor de los Milagros is commonly associated with the dessert.

Picarones are deeply entwined with Peruvian culture and history, as well as their spirituality and religion.

One song that is sung by the picaroneras is named The Picaronera, composed by Peruvian artist Rosa Mercedes Ayarza.

The lyrics, translated into English, go “Here are the hot picarones! They call me picaronera because I sell picarones but they don’t call me a thief when I steal hearts… Delicious! Delicious! Hot picarones!

Round and toasted in their honey well bathed, they are provoking the rascals to old men and children.”

Final Thoughts

The picaron is important in Peru because, not only do they taste great, they represent the crossroads of history and culture that make up modern Peru.

The recipe is based on indiginous foods and Spanish inventions, adapted by and carried through generations of freed African slaves and other diverse Peruvian communities and families, and associated with the independence festival Fiestas Patrias.

They are associated with the Christian faith in the country, as well as a common delicacy in marketplaces and street vendors.

Picarones are available across Peru and all year round. They are quick and easy to make, tasty to eat, and are a point of national pride in the country.