Alternate Title: The Inevitable Backlash Against Venezuelans in Peru
My favorite chicken joint in Lima was Stav. It isn’t close to where I live, nor is it Peruvian-style pollo a la brasa.
Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken is marinated in mostly black pepper and cooked in a large fire oven over charcoal. The chicken comes out plump and moist. I dig pollo a la brasa as much as the next guy, but I came to prefer Stav’s “horneado” (baked or roasted) just because the skin comes out crispy.
Actually, it’s not the chicken so much as the sides. Instead of the soft, flaccid fries accompanying pollo a la brasa, Stav roasted chicken platter came with causa, chaufa, cole slaw, roasted potatoes and fried yuca.
We ordered Stav recently and it came with neither causa nor yuca. Nobody cried over the missing yuca, but the causa was the life of the side-dish party, and now it’s gone. But what’s worse … it was replaced with fuckin arepas.
Plain, fried arepas that dogs won’t eat.
Instead of fried yucas, a tamal so dry it was basically cornbread. I’d have rather had yucas.
Having lived in Colombia for a few years, I developed the theory that Nueva Granada was populated by supertasters – people who feel flavors with such intensity that it induces pain. So they need food with no flavor. That’s why all the Colombians and Venezuelans in Peru say the same thing about Peruvian food: “muy condimentada.” Very seasoned, or very flavorful. They can’t handle it.
The last time I heard that was my last time in Migraciones actually. The place was packed wall-to-wall with Venezuelans. Back in March I wrote a piece for Caracas Chronicles which described the influx of Venezuelans in Peru. There were a lot of them then, but there even more now. You can’t miss them. They’re in every neighborhood, every block. They now have congregation points in every district. You can’t walk more than a few blocks without seeing their baseball caps or hearing their talk. There’s even a Barrio Chamo in Lima.
So I thought that maybe Stav replacing causa with arepas had something to do with the exploding Venezuelan community. At first I thought they were bought out by Venezuelans. But when I looked up the company online and saw they’re Ecuadorean. So my new theory is that, being Nueva Granadeans themselves, they always wanted to serve arepas in Peru but couldn’t because Peruvians have taste, unlike Nueva Granadeans.
But with all these Venezuelans in Peru, you have all these people who consider arepas to be food. So my new theory is that Stav thought they could get away with serving arepas instead of the labor-intensive causa. Before the Great Migration, most Peruvians would’ve done like expats in Colombia and thrown them shits out the window like Frisbees. But they’re slowly being broken down and convinced that arepas provide some kind of sustenance, which is silly.
That theory led me to wonder, will Venezuelans ruin Peru’s award-winning cuisine? Given there are so many of them, they’ll have to have some kind of effect on Peruvian food. And given Peruvian cuisine is amazing and Nueva Granadean food is awful, that change can only go in one direction.
Then I wondered if there could be some kind of backlash against Venezuelans in Peru. Venezuelans immigrants have begun to wear out their welcome in some countries closer to home including Panama, Colombia and Brazil. Panama now requires visas from them. There isn’t much of a backlash in Peru yet, but could it happen?
I asked wife what she thought of the arepas in the chicken box, and if she thought the influx of Venezuelans had anything to do with it. I went further and posed the question, given wife has been to Colombia and seen how awful the food is, if all these Venezuelans might harm Peru’s amazing cuisine.
Being a good Peruvian, her response had nothing to do with food, but Venezuelan women. In her mind and most of her compatriotas, venezolanas are the same as colombianas, which is to say they are all homewreckers and prostitutes.
That inspired her to warn me that ojala there isn’t some Venezuelan slut trying to acercarse a mi. Cuidado, ah?
That tangent again reminded me of my aforementioned visit to Migraciones. I was seated near one of these refugee-migrant hybrids who had surgically enhanced her body far beyond what’s possible in the natural kingdom. Her top and bottom were cartoonishly large, larger than any female specimen of the human race anywhere in the world. For that height and waist size, you’d wonder if having 50% of your bodyweight in T&A makes it hard to walk … much less work.
In the States she would be a comic figure, a like a three-titted mutant from Mars. But here in Peru I think it’d be vulgar, profane, an obscenity, a disgrace. In Nueva Granada that may be OK, but any Peruvian man who brings such a specimen home will create a scandal in the family and neighborhood. What would his mother say? How pissed will his neighbor women be?
There are hundreds if not thousands of these non-native specimens, surgically enhanced or not, with a reputation that precedes them for a less strict morality than Pious Lima as well as an enthusiasm for beauty pageants.
Is it a matter of time before the Peruvian women grow wary of the new immigrants?
And if they start fucking with the food, the backlash may spread from Peru’s psycho jealous women to normal dudes like me who just want to eat.
And from there to the un- or under-employed who have to compete for work with people who are starving. This could all lead to a populist backlash against Venezuelans, just like in Panama. I mean, if Panamanians can get annoyed by Venezuelans despite being Nueva Granadeans themselves with the same cartoon specimens and no good food to ruin, imagine how Peruvians would react!
I’m not predicting this. Just wild speculation.
But for real, I don’t want any goddamn arepas in my chicken box.
Stav: OUT like m.f. C-Gowdy.
Here up in the north we have some lads with red yellow & blue taped coolboxes ambulanting around the centro historico.
I did see a couple of these “going home” together which suggests that there is a bigger set up behind these poor venezolanos. Yep, like a big arepa bakery somewhere up in the sandy bits.
There was a meme someone left on facebook a week or so back comparing “average venezolano ambulante with nike shoes and designer t shirt” with “desperate hard working ambulante peruano”.
Apart from which, several of us with lifetime tramites in progress with Migraciones last year were put on the siding for months “around the time” that a decree made possible that some V’s could come here with not too many formalities.
I think you may be right about the backlash. My nephew came home with a story about the “before tax” earning capacity of the areperos. But being Peruvian it may hardly be noticeable. Subtle stuff.
Colin, we just read your article. I think I’m going to get sick, but thanks for opening our eyes to how the Vs are invading our culture. What
Soy peruano y me gusto la historia ahora no puedo irme sin leer todo tu blog, saludos
Replacing causa with fucking arepas is an utter outrage and a piss take.