The first African arrived with the conquistadores in 1532. They fought alongside the conquistadors as soldiers and worked wherever needed. Because of their previous acculturation in Spanish language and culture, they performed a variety of skilled and unskilled functions that contributed to Hispanic colonization. Gradually, Afro Peruvians concentrated in specialized fields that drew upon their extensive knowledge and training in skilled artisan work and in agriculture. As the mestizo population grew, the role of Afro Peruvians as intermediaries between the indigenous residents and the Spaniards lessened. Spaniards were at the top of the hierarchy, "mestizos" in the middle, and Africans and the indigenous populations competed for the bottom. Afro Peruvians were relegated to back-breaking labor on sugarcane and rice plantations of the northern coast or the vineyards and cotton fields of the southern coast.
In the year 1856, President Ramon Castilla declared the freedom of the Afro-Peruvian ethnic groups and abolished slavery. Today, Afro-Peruvians reside mainly on the central and south coast, with the majority of the population in the provinces of Lima, Callao, Nazca, Chincha, Ica and Cañete. Afro-Peruvians can also be found in significant numbers on the northern coast in Lambayeque and Piura. Due to the excessive mixing between the Afro inhabitant native to the area and the Andean migrants, the Afro-Peruvian root has been more hybridized.
African culture had an important influence in Peruvian culinary culture since their arrival when they started to prepare their typical dishes with the ingredients they found in Peru. In the search for the taste they were missing from their lands, they gave Peruvian Cuisine a touch of rhythm, flavor and color. Most of the dishes were made with the ingredients their master did not consume such as the entrails, meat they did not use, or leftovers. This forced them to use a lot of spices to cover the raw taste of the ingredients. They also used other ingredients such as potatoes
, grains and fruit such as banana and sugar cane in all the desserts.
Afro Peruvian slaves used to work as cooks either for their owners or to sell on streets. They used chicken blood to prepare "sangrecita", stomach to prepare "cau cau", intestines for the "choncholi", lungs to make "chanfainita", as well as some other dishes like "carapulcra" made with peanuts and dry potato, and "tacu-tacu" which is an omelet made with the rice and beans of one or two days ago (nowadays is done with fresh products) usually served with a big steak and onion sauce. Even though we have said that "anticuchos" have arab influence, there are some historians that believe that it also have a African influence since it has many of the characteristics of their cuisine: it is made with cow heart and is a very spiced dish. "Morusa" is a kind of pure made with mashed beans, garlic, onions and bacon slides. The combination of sweet potatoes and pork is very common like in the "chicharrones" and "adobos"
Many of the desserts that are now typical in the coast are also part of the afro-Peruvian heritage. "Frejol colado" is made with a type of bean called "canario", who is strained after being boiled and then is dressed with sugar, clove, cinnamon and milk and served with a bit of sesame. "Chapana" was made with a dough of yucca with cane molasses, cinnamon and clove wrapped in a banana leaf and was consumed in "Chincha" , while in Ica, there was a similar dish called "Quitusco" that was wrapped in corn
leaf instead of banana. The "yuquita" used to be the fried dough of yucca flour filled with mashed sweet potato. This was the Afro Peruvian cousin of the Spanish "churro". El "Turrón de Doña Pepa
" is another afro Peruvian tradition and is consumed only in October, during the "Señor de los Milagos" procession.
Afro Peruvian slaves also created special alcoholic beverages that they made themselves. "Guarapo" which was produced with the remains of sugar cane juice was served either sweet and fermented "achichado". The slaves also consumed "Chinchiví" and it was made with "Chicha de jora" (corn beer), nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and carnation or elderberry flowers. But it was forbidden because of the effects it causes on people. "Tutuma" was a blend of wine and "aguardiente" served during the "Virgen del Carmen" festivities celebrated on July 16th in the village called El Carmen.