Peru on Ice

by Antoinette Bruno
Antoinette Bruno
June 2014

Coca Forest: Chirimoya, Coca Leaves, Theobromas (plant), and Coffee at Central

Coca Forest: Chirimoya, Coca Leaves, Theobromas (plant), and Coffee at Central

Bahuaja Milk Ice Cream, Crispy Castaña, Mango, Cranberry, Cushuro, and Mochi at Maido

Bahuaja Milk Ice Cream, Crispy Castaña, Mango, Cranberry, Cushuro, and Mochi at Maido

Melon, Cucumber, Sea Urchin, and Clam Ceviche at Astrid y Gastón

Melon, Cucumber, Sea Urchin, and Clam Ceviche at Astrid y Gastón

There's a chilly trend happening just south of the equator. In Lima, Peru, chefs are using avant garde serving vessels, and they're also plating on ice. Lots of ceviche gets eaten in Peru, and it needs to be cold. This imperative could be one reason behind this ice-as-plate trend. "We started serving [ceviche] on very fine crushed ice, set with liquid nitrogen," says Chef Diego Muñoz Velasquez of Astrid y Gastón. "But it was very hard for the costumers to touch the plate. So, we started to set the ice in a glass bowl. We broke a lot of bowls in the process. Eventually we just set a thin layer of ice with liquid nitrogen to make the plating more delicate."

Ice adds a touch of drama, curiosity, and a tactile chill to the table. Chefs go to great lengths to ensure that food that's supposed to be eaten hot, is served hot. It only makes sense that the same care is taken with cold foods. "We're doing a lot of ice work at the restaurant, especially with [the] team on the bar. We do more than 20 different ices. On the new menu, we’ll be adding a vegetable dish on ice." Everyone knows the recipe for ice, and the cost is, of course, low. So, plating with ice is a chance to play, be creative, and stay cool on those hot summer nights in Peru.