There is something alluring about the Amazon. In Peru, the territory is vast, running east of the Andes Mountains and onto the Peruvian limit with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia. I have a special place in my heart for this part of my country and a special place in my Google Albums for the one time I visited this region of Peru. Español aquí.


Sadly, as far as my family tree goes, no one comes from the jungle. Otherwise I could boast about being hot blooded even though I’m from the capital city of Lima. But every excuse is good to eat in Peru, so I let a good friend and his wife (from Amazonian Tarapoto) guide us to the Aguajal Restaurant for Saint John day. We celebrated with them. I love learning new things so here is what I learned about this day and their amazing food.

Iquitos, 2013

Among the customs and celebrations that make up the amazonian charm is the day of Saint John The Baptist, known locally as día de San Juan. The festivity includes bathing in the river on June 23rd, because it is said that Saint John blessed all the rivers to bring happiness and health on that day. The next, going to mass and then to party. They say it’s also common to light bonfires in the river. From Lima, I didn’t bathe in the river or light any fires, but I did share this nice amazonian meal.

The Juane
The most typical dish for Saint John day is the Juane, which resembles the head of Saint John. It’s said to originate from the amazonian city of Moyobamba and be inspired by the biblical episode in which Herodias beheaded John the Baptist at the request of Salmone. Yikes. Gastronomically, it has various presentations, the most common being rice, chicken and spices wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled for about an hour and a half. I learned that it tastes best when you eat it warm. After cooling down the taste is not the same.

Tacacho con Cecina
Another typical Peruvian amazonian dish is the tacacho with cecina, which is mashed green plantains with smoked pork and a sausage. The plantains are either fried or boiled, and mashed with pork fat. The rest is pretty self explanatory. I find this to be a very filling meal.

cecina con tacacho
Source: El Aguajal

Arroz chaufa de Cecina
Arroz chaufa is not a typical amazonian dish, but an adaptation of a Peruvian favorite. You see chaufa is the Peruvian version of fried rice. The name alone comes from a very bad pronunciation of the chinese for fried rice. The dish originates from what the kitchen helpers could make with whatever was leftover from their workday. The variation is in using the cecina pork instead of chicken.

arroz chaufa con cecina
Source: El Aguajal