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Feeding the soul and stomach with hands-on learning
October 13, 2013
Learning during the Study-Service Term takes many forms, from living with host families and going on field trips to soaking in hours of lectures and participating in-depth language learning. Nothing, however, quite compares with hands-on workshops. Students recently enjoyed two stimulating cultural experiences: learning how to play a new musical instrument and make two Peruvian gastronomic treasures.
Camilo Ballumbrosio, an extraordinary Afro-Peruvian percussionist known throughout Peru, introduced students to the cajón, a wooden six-sided, box-shaped instrument developed in Peru and played by slapping the front or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands or fingers. He also demonstrated Afro-Peruvian tap dancing known as “zapateo.”
Ballumbrosio’s ancestors were brought to Peru as slaves from Africa to work on cotton and sugar plantations located along the coast. Because they were kept in such isolated settings, Peru’s slaves eventually developed unique music and dance forms, including the cajón and the zapateo. Ballumbrosio’s family is from Chincha and his father was a well-known zapateo (tap) dancer and violinist who taught his children how to dance and make music.
During his workshop in the salon of the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Buen Pastor), Ballumbrosio explained that the cajón is a versatile instrument that today in Peru is used in many musical forms. After demonstrating his considerable skills, he patiently taught students how to replicate complex sequences on the cajón.
The following day, guest chef Nicolás Ferrer Quispe met with students in Casa Goshen and taught them how to prepare two classic dishes – ceviche and Papas a la Huancaína.
Ceviche, which is believed to have been developed in Peru, traditionally is made from three basic ingredients – fresh ocean fish, lime (whose acidity “cooks” the fish), and chili. Under Ferrer’s patient direction, the students prepared cod in a marinade made of lime juice, ají (chili peppers), and onion, and garnished it with lettuce, yam, fried corn kernels, and seaweed.
Next, students assembled Papas a la Huancaína, a cold salad made of boiled yellow potatoes with a spicy, creamy sauce called Huancaína, which is made of fresh white cheese, yellow chili peppers (aji), crackers and evaporated milk mixed in a blender. The dish is garnished with lettuce, fresh white cheese, black olives and quail eggs.
Ferrer explained that Papas a la Huancaína was developed by women in Huancayo, a city in Peru’s central highlands, as a snack served to visitors. Since then it has become one of Peru’s most popular dishes. For Goshen’s students, it became a perfect accompaniment to ceviche – and together, both were an excellent noon meal.