We grew up with comida en la casa, but we also want to support those who make us comida en la calle. That’s why this Latinx Heritage Month, mitú has partnered with El Jimador to shine a light on small business owners to help the Latino Community Foundation. Juntos, we build on our efforts to foster inclusivity and amplify Latinx voices.
Mikuhna means “good food” in Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas, whose empire stretched across Peru for centuries. And rightly so, as it’s the name of Karla Flores’ food truck, carefully chosen to describe the delicious Peruvian dishes we all know and love.
“[The name] comes from our ancestors, and it’s really meaningful because it covers so much. In Peru, food is not just something you eat to live. You eat it because it’s part of who you are,” Flores explained.
Flores, who was born in northern Peru and emigrated to the United States when she was nine, says she grew up in the kitchen, helping her mother at parties. “It’s not like here where you can just find a caterer,” she said. “There, everyone participates. It’s part of the party.”
However, Flores wasn’t always determined to be the head chef of a wildly successful food truck.
With a degree in mechanical engineering and a love of the sea, it wasn’t until a sailing injury benched her that she took a cooking class, decided that was what she was. she wanted to do it for the rest of her life and never looked back.
However, opening her own food truck didn’t come without difficulties. “There were times when I almost gave up…it’s hard work,” she said. “We started very, very humble, some days not making any money at all. And then one day it took off!
Flores remembers her “Mom, I made it!” moment: “I got a random call from someone in New York who had heard about our food from a friend of theirs, and that person called me to find out where we were going to be the following week because they were coming on the west coast and I really wanted to try our food. I was like, ‘Wow, people know who we are!’ »
Speaking of food, Flores highly recommends trying the ceviche or saltado de mariscos, as those fresh fish flavors remind her of what she ate as a kid on the Peruvian coast. “I grew up eating fried mojarra that was taken at 5 a.m. that morning for breakfast,” she laughed.
She remarked on the important connection between food and identity, adding: “When I moved to the United States, [food] became even more important to me, because it was the only way for me to have this deep connection to my roots.
The lomo saltado with garlic rice and the papa a la huancaina, topped with an aji amarillo cream cheese sauce, are also excellent. Yet Flores believes that the essence of Peruvian cuisine is not about flavor, but about people.
“The love and effort that people put into Peruvian cuisine is incredible,” she began. “Peruvian cuisine is influenced not only by Inca cuisine, but also Spanish, French, Italian, Creole, African, Chinese, Japanese…everything has left its little breach and that makes the great rainbow that is the cuisine Peruvian.”
And what a delicious rainbow.
To learn more about how you can help elevate the Latinx community alongside El Jimador and the Latino Community Foundation, visit LCF.
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