“Chifa,” a cuisine developed by Chinese immigrants to Peru, is comfort food for Peruvians across the world
You are what you eat they say, and, “I knew we were huaqiao,” restaurant-owner Maria Esther Chía says in English, using the Chinese term for “overseas Chinese.” “But I just thought of myself as Peruvian.”
The same can be said of the chifa cuisine, which was among the many dishes she served at Pachapapi, the Peruvian restaurant she used to own in Beijing’s bustling Chaoyang district. Like Chía, chifa has a complicated identity rooted in China, but is also a comfort food to Peruvians and a connection to the old country for the nation’s Chinese diaspora.
The word chifa has been theorized to come from sik faan (食饭, to eat a meal) or ci faan (饎饭, to cook a meal) in Cantonese. In Peru it’s a culinary tradition that fuses southern Chinese flavors and techniques with Peruvian ingredients and twists.
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Introducing Chifa, Peru’s Chinese Culinary Tradition is a story from our issue, “Sports for All.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.