During her first trip to Peru, Kazia Jankowski ’04 did more than simply keep a journal and snap a few pictures; she wrote a guidebook. Traversing Peru’s diverse landscape with a only a backpack and her laptop, Kazia spoke with hundreds of local restaurant and hotel owners and fell in love with the idea of “experiencing culture through food.” As someone “always writing and thinking about food,” Kazia was impressed with the sophisticated flavors of local dishes and fascinated by the variety of foreign influences that are evident in Peruvian cuisine.
The inspiration for a company offering culinary-themed vacations came to Kazia during a press trip for foreign journalists, where she attended sessions on food and drink led by some of Lima’s top chefs and restaurant owners. “I thought to myself, they’re doing this for journalists, why not do it for travelers?” she says. Kazia approached two of the press trip’s organizers with the concept, and the three founded Pica Peru Culinary Vacations in 2007. The company’s inaugural trip is scheduled for March 2008. Travelers will spend three days in Lima meeting chefs, visiting markets, and dining in some of the capital’s top restaurants before moving on to a rural location for sightseeing and hands-on cooking classes.
Recent publicity about Peruvian cuisine and the growing popularity of culinary travel have contributed to the early success of Pica Peru. “People who know about food, know about Peru,” says Kazia. The Economist recently called Peru’s food “one of the world’s dozen or so great cuisines,” in part because of its diverse origins. Local menus in Peru boast a unique blend of Spanish and Japanese cuisine infused with native ingredients and specialties. In addition, each region of Peru contributes different crops and methods of cooking that have only recently fused together. The results have flourished in the country’s capital, which boasts fourteen culinary schools and “more money, more stability than ever before,” Kazia says.
Although she arrived at Bowdoin with every intention of majoring in English, Professor John Turner persuaded Kazia to add Spanish to her repertoire. Her study of Spanish opened her eyes to “a different kind of writing and a different imagination in literature,” she says. Kazia studied abroad in Chile during her junior year and wrote for a local paper. After graduation, she attended culinary school in Spain.
Kazia recently signed on as the assistant online editor of Denver, Colorado’s 5280 magazine. With Pica Peru now up and running, Kazia will act as the U.S. representative for the company and take care of logistics for American customers. To learn more about Pica Peru, visit www.peruculinaryvcations.com.
Originally published in Vol. 79, No. 2, Winter 2008 Bowdoin Magazine.
Posted February 01, 2008