By Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki Clark
On any give night in the Clark household, dinner consists of a Boca burger and a Coke Zero. Or if Iâ€™m lucky, and my boyfriend is feeling generous, the worldâ€™s best grilled cheese sandwich. And while his mastery of the bread and cheese combo is pretty much world-renowned, when I had the opportunity to attend a dinner celebrating the cuisine of Peru, I didnâ€™t need a whole lot of encouragement.
If having the chance to expand my gastronomic offerings on a Wednesday evening werenâ€™t enough motivation, the dinner was held at the Organization of American States (OAS) Headquarters. It is easily one of the most stunning buildings in the district, with an incredible sense of history and an almost regal sense of architecture. As I walked in, I was quickly swept up in a crowd of partygoers enjoying Peruvian appetizers and Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru. Which is now my new favorite beverage of choice, by the way.
From the moment I walked in to when I left some 3.5 hours later, everything I tasted was a new piece of culinary heaven. I was escorted to the press table where I got to meet the whoâ€™s who of DC social scene; reporters from the Georgetowner, Washington Post, Where Magazine, Washington Flyer. Several of them had come from the RAMMY Nominations Dinner the night before, DCâ€™s restaurant version of the Oscars. After my meal, I was pretty convinced that Peruvian chefs and brothers Felipe and Coque Ossio, who masterminded the dinner, would have been on top of the nominations listâ€”if they had been eligible.
The purpose of the evening was to honor Peru with the first ever “Cultural Patrimony of the Americas” award in recognition of the richness of its gastronomy. Presented by the Secretary General of the OAS JosÃ© Miguel Insulza to the Peruvian Minister of Trade and Tourism Eduardo Ferreyros, and in recognition of the Inter-American Year of Culture, the annual award is given to a cultural expression that constitutes an important contribution to the heritage of the Americas.
The entire experienceâ€”from the first course to the fourthâ€”was nothing but delectable. We started with ceviche and tiraditos tastings, which I am pretty convinced could have completely satisfied me as an entire meal. The tastings were followed by a rich Peruvian Shrimp Chowder and a cilantro-scented rack of lamb. Iâ€™m typically not a lamb person, I find the meat to be too gamey, but this lamb was melt-in-your-mouth perfection and made me wonder why I had spent four years as a vegetarian. The meal ended with a trio of Peruvian desserts which had me rethinking my U.S. citizenship. The Peruvians have the food thing down.
To paraphrase Minister Ferreyros during his acceptance, â€œGastronomy is a passion which expresses our love for those we are cooking for.â€ Now I understand why my boyfriendâ€™s grilled cheese tastes so good. Although after last night, I may encourage him to start cooking Peruvian-style.
For more information, visit www.oas.org.
***Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki Clark is a professional photographer and the Policy Media Relations Officer for CARE USA.Â Like her sister Lindsey, she loves live music and looking at life through the lens of a camera.***
Punch Pulse Correspondent Niki McMillan is a part time photographer; full time Red Crosser and 24/7 big sister to fellow puncher Lindsey. She loves travel, puppy kisses (especially from her own, ichabob) and invites to bourbon-orientated events.