October is the month of Miracles in Lima. It’s also the time of year when people choose to eat the most Turrón de Doña Pepa, the traditional Peruvian sweet.
CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.
And true to the religious nature of this time of year, they’re prepared to make a pilgrimage to get the best turrón they can find.
It’s a time of religious penitence and reflection when the faithful pay homage to a black Christ in one of the world’s largest religious processions..
In downtown Lima, turrón sells like hotcakes.
And certain spots have earned a reputation for the best turrón. Many of the faithful find their way to Doña Isabel’s place, where the sweet is family tradition.
In business for more than 70 years, the establishment has many enthusiastic customers.
The owners make turrón with big slabs of baked dough, covered in a fruity syrup and topped with colored sprinkles.
It’s sold by the kilo. In October, that’s around 60 kilos a day.
“What our customers look for is quality. They don’t like colorings, flavorings. They like it all-natural and that’s what they get here. That’s why the people keep coming to us,” says owner Isabel Chiuyure.
Her mother, also named Isabel, started the business in 1947. Its fans span many generations, like former singer Carmen Rosa “Mariquita” Pavón.
“You won’t find anything like these turrónes. They are the best, as Ms. Isabelita used to say, the best in Peru and the world. She was so nice, always entertaining us with her delicious puddings,” says Pavon.
Of course, there’s a story behind Doña Pepa turrón.
It dates to the 18th century when a freed slave Josefa ‘Pepa’ Marmanillo lost the use of her arms.
She was a fine cook but couldn’t work due to her paralysis, so she prayed to the Lord of the Miracles.
“Filled with faith, she tells how the Lord of the Miracles cured her arms. From then on, every year she took her turrónes to the procession in October to give thanks,” says Rosa Reyes, the pastry chef at Tanta.
Now, pastry chef Rosa Reyes gives the centuries-old dessert a modern twist.
First the dough, sprinkled with sesame seeds and toasted aniseed. It’s laid out in strips before baking for extra crunchiness.
Then comes the syrup made from many types of fruit. You can smell the fruity aromas coming off the plate.
For Peruvians, the taste and texture of this dessert don’t just tickle their taste buds, it conjures up memories.