To most Americans, fruit cake is a ridiculous joke of a cake that nobody ever wants to grace their table. And most people would probably never bring fruit cake to a party or a potluck unless they were A.) bringing a gag gift or B.) really really knew that someone at the party really really liked fruit cake. You wouldn’t just show up and assume that it would be a hit and that everybody would be calling you the next day talkin’ bout, “Let me get the recipe to that delicious fruit cake you made.”
Okay, now. Take the most rejected cake in all of the good ole U.S. of A,
process it up real nice and unhealthy like, package it in a plastic bag (or cardboard box), and send it off and market it in Peru. Now you’ve got yourself a panetón, a very serious Peruvian Christmas tradition.
It may be hard as an American to take a processed fruit cake so seriously (I know its hard for me) but I wan’t ya’ll to understand that it is serious business here. For example, when I told my host sister that we don’t eat panetón as a Christmas tradition in the U.S. she asked me, “How can it feel like Christmas if you don’t have panetón? Honestly, I was on the verge of sarcastically responding, “Pfff, you can’t be serious. Panetón is the biggest joke ever” but then I saw how serious her face was and decided to pull it together and respond in a culturally appropriate way. She went on to explain to me that even the poorest families move hell and high water to make sure they have a panetón on the table for la navidad.
I thought about how I would feel if someone told me a big ole’ white man
in a Kool Aid red suit and flying reindeer was dumbest tradition ever or if someone said decorating a Christmas tree was for losers and ya know… I think that would hurt my feelings a little. So from that point on, I decided to stop outwardly mocking Peru’s precious panetón.
Now to be clear, even though I’ve turned the dial down on the panetón hateration, that certainly doesn’t make it any more delicious and I still struggle through every massive piece that gets served (Its not only served during Christmas but throughout the holiday season). And that’s just the way Peace Corps goes I suppose.
But anywho, in the spirit of La Navidad Peruana, below I’ve assembled a few facts about Peru’s beloved holiday tradition. Enjoy ya’ll!
- Panetón is actually Italian in origin and brought to South America by Italian immigrants.
- In 1960, Antonio D’Onofrio (son of Italian immigrants) began selling panetón in Peru. To this day D’Onofrio is one of the top panetón brands.
- Approximately 19,000 (yes, nineteen thousand) tons of panetón are consumed every year in Peru
- There are approximately 100 brands of panetón available in Peru
- The candied fruits on the inside are often made with watermelon peels that are dyed and flavored to look like other fruits.
- There is something on the market actually called Essence of Panetón that you can spray in the package to make your panetón smell like a… super panetón… I guess…
- In some parts of Peru quinoa,coca leaves, potato, and/or sweet potato may be used to make panetón from scratch. Cause what are carbs without more carbs cooked into it?
- Below is my favorite panetón Christmas commercial – to me its the best thing about panetón and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And lately, I’ve even taken to crying when it comes on:
If for whatever reason all this processed fruit cake talk has you salivating and counting down the minutes until you can get your hands on some, here is a recipe I found online. Happy Holidays ya’ll! Have a Christmas cookie for me cause I’ll be eating… well, you know. *tear drop*
Until Next Time!