There is something very humbling about going back to your parent’s country. As a child my parents would take me and my brother to Peru every summer. That slowly became every two years, then three, and eventually led to today where I haven’t been back in about five years.
This time it was different though. The most exciting part for me was being able to share this experience with five other friends. We were able to see all the different sides of Peru; few people realize how diverse and segmented the country is. Going through three different terrains we were able to understand the beauty of the land, which is so much more than just Machu Picchu.
Food is also such an important part of any trip to Peru, and our experience dining at Central Restaurant in Lima was able to be both unconventional and whole-heartedly traditional Peruvian.
The experience at Virgilio’s Central in Lima, Peru really told the timeless story of Peru like never before. Virgilio was deeply inspired by the diverse ecosystems all existing within Peru and he and his team travel every corner of the country to collect unconventional ingredients and build dishes inspired by each different altitude. Every place we visited, from the desert of Huacachina to the impossibly high altitudes of the Vicuna Mountains (Rainbow Mountain) were represented in his creative and unbelievably delicious dishes.
Another element to the story of Virgilio that resonated with me was the freedom he was seeking from the monotony of his life in the city of Lima. Ultimately, he found great success in the European classic culinary circles but he was never truly happy until he was able to pursue his own creative concept in his home country. There was something very humbling about that. This sense of escapism is not unique to people living in New York City. It made me realize that no matter how far you go, it’s important to stay grounded and be grateful of your roots. For me, that is both Lima and New York City.
I couldn’t help but laugh when a friend recently roasted me with a sarcastic, “If I know anything about Clive it’s that he’s NOT bougie, so humble and never looks down on people,” but in retrospect I needed to reconnect with my roots in Peru to recenter and humble myself, as I definitely am guilty of two of three. (I’m Bad and Boujee, who are we kidding).
I haven’t been great at keeping in touch with my relatives in Peru and I haven’t been able to see them in five years. Despite this, they gave unconditional hospitality and love to my friends and I without expecting anything in return. This really made me think about what traditional values I may have lost along the way in my fast-paced, monotonous and stereotypical superficial New York life. Our time is valuable and we do not do anything without a purpose behind it (whether it be good or bad). It was a great change to see a group people enjoy the gift of life and not become obsessed with the superficial drama and malaise that is a byproduct of living in a big city.
To keep it short I feel grateful for the experience I’ve had, with the people who could drive me crazy but that I still have love for. Maybe this note isn’t for everyone but more so it serves for me to stay in this mindset and not stray too far away. Life will take me through all elevations but there’s only one that I’m most familiar with. One that has been part of my upbringing and molded the person I am today and for that I’m grateful!
P.S The sand dunes at Huacachina was my favorite part of the trip. So hop on a dune buggy and grab a board, I promise you that you’ll feel alive.