01 May

Peru’s purple olives soaked in history

By Maricel E. Presilla,

On my first trip to Peru many years ago, I was captivated by the country’s black olives. Juicy, meaty and flavorful, they were a far cry from the rubbery California black olives of U.S. salad bars and a welcome change from the sharp, briny green Manzanilla olives I grew up eating in Cuba.

They reminded me of Greek kalamata olives, my favorite until that time, but they were larger, softer, more purple in color and mellower in taste. Peruvians call them aceitunas de botija for the clay jars (botijas) in which they were stored when olive-growing and -curing began in Peru in the 16th century.

They are served as appetizers with cocktails like the pisco sour and used to garnish emblematic dishes like papas a la huancaina, boiled potato slices blanketed in creamy fresh cheese and walnut sauce; and causa a la limena, a molded potato purée with a savory filling.

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