Flavors of Nature: Food from the protected areas of Peru

a chef cooks noodles

Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino travels extensively throughout the Peruvian Amazon. But he doesn’t go there to look for macaws at sunrise, hike in the lush forests, or relax on a long boat ride—the draw for most people who visit the region.

He is there to find ingredients for his next dish. It might be paiche, a fish that often weighs 200 pounds and is known for its tender white meat. Or snails, hearts of palm, and yucca.

Pedro is one of a growing number of cooks in Peru who rely on the country’s protected areas—parks, nature reserves, and sanctuaries—to keep their menus vibrant and their customers satisfied. Some, like him, are chefs in upscale restaurants in Lima. Others make and sell their food from roadside stands in the countryside. They all cook with hundreds of varieties of fish, fruits, vegetables, insects, meat, and grains that are harvested in the country’s humid rain forests, frigid mountain valleys, or wild ocean waters.

Every meal they make helps satisfy the appetites of Peruvians, as well as people globally who travel to Peru just for its food. The cooks hope, too, that every gratifying meal is an opportunity to create champions for a new initiative related to Peru’s protected areas. Under the leadership of the Peruvian government, WWF and partners are creating a new fund that will be used to properly manage the country’s 76 protected areas so they remain a robust source of fresh and local ingredients, jobs for farmers and fishermen, and much more.