Peruvian Cuisine Above the Clouds
Virgilio Martínez, the pioneer chef who put Peruvian cuisine on the global map with its much-acclaimed Lima restaurant Central, now attempts to revolutionize our approach to food. His new destination restaurant called “Mil” is part of Mater Iniciativa, a research institute located at a breathtaking point 3,500 meters above sea level at the Inca ruins of Moray near Cusco. The institute has been concentrating on the study and preservation of Peru’s biological and cultural diversity since 2013. Its team of anthropologists, sociologists and linguists “comb” the mountains, highlands, and jungles of Peru with to register indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques. Actually, Central owes part of its global success to incorporating these traditional ingredients of Peruvian cuisine to its tasting menu. The tasting menu called Altitudes presents dishes prepared with ingredients coming from different altitudes of the country.
Mil, on the other hand, focuses on what is produced at its surroundings and is open 6 days of the week only for lunch. The tasting menu comes with an astronomical price tag, but this is surely an experimental experience for a lifetime. Crazy varieties of potatoes, roots like oca, wild plants and flowers that people outside the Andes have not heard of are used as the main ingredients. All this is to be swallowed up by glasses of fermented drinks, cocktails infused with exotic bitters, and products of Andean beer and winemakers of course. Overlooking the archaeological ruins of Moray is also priceless! These huge circular terraces cut into the earth and supported by stone structures were used as an agricultural lab by the Incas for centuries. The largest one is 30 meters deep and 220 meters wide. There is a temperature difference up to 15° C between the terraces at the top and the bottom. That is how Incans were able to create microclimates and cultivate crops from various elevations of the Empire, from the sea level to the highlands.