It is estimated that the migration of China to Peru was one of the longest in the history of Latin America in terms of its extension throughout the country; Peruvian society is highly influenced by this culture which has an undoubted mark.
It has helped build the foundations of many traditions not only of Peru but of Latin America and that are still unknown, because it has not been given the importance it deserves.
The history of the Chinese community and its integration in Peru has been outstanding since nowadays its descendants have managed to integrate into Peruvian society, which in the past entered the country very vulnerable and rejected by society, but it has been transformed over the years and it is important nowadays.
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Historical background and origin
The relationship between Peru and China began between the years 1849- 1872, when about 100.000 Chinese immigrants wrongly called ̈chinos culíes ̈(its name comes from a Chinese word that refers to people dedicated to forced labor) began to arrive in Peru.
In this lapse of time Peru had a shortage in labor and therefore immigrants were mainly hired to perform work of the slaves of the time, since african people who were their slaves previously and who attended all the claims of the Spanish were given total freedom in the year 1840, replacing them by the Chinese culíes.
There were two important areas about these immigrants to whom it was convenient to emigrate to Peru (Shixue,2006), as a first measure was the hiring of Chinese that was carried out in some haciendas for cotton and sugar plantations.
In the second measure, the export of guano, i.e. bird droppings, was in great demand at that time in various parts of the world for this came to be qualified as a wealth of Peru, the two previous areas made it necessary to increase labor largely culíes.
The Chinese have always been characterized by being tireless workers together with an undeniable discipline that has made China a world potential today.
The great opportunity that Peru showed at that time between 1840 and 1880 in agricultural issues when Peru became the first exporter of guano; the extraction of this product, which was exported to Asia and Europe as the increase in sugar production marked the economy of Peru (Lausent, 2006).
Guano is the result of an accumulation of bird excrement that becomes a fertilizer for plant growth, which was fundamental in agricultural practices and therefore became a highly valued product not only for the country but also abroad (Lausent, 2006).
Social – gastronomic mixture
By removing such stigmas the Chinese community took root in Peru and was forging its values, traditions and customs based on Peruvian culture, so when we go to Lima, Peru, we can find the Chinatown, the most famous in South America, where you can find all kinds of trade related to their culture highlighting the Chinese stores.
Chifas restaurants (offering fusion between traditional Chinese food and Peruvian food), Chinese social associations and temples, all kinds of cultural events are held, the result of spending an afternoon in this neighborhood makes one is transported to China and all its culture.
The number of chifas in Lima has increased incredibly. It is estimated that there are more than 5 thousand of these restaurants throughout the capital. It is very common to see the green and red signs on the roofs of these establishments.
Many investigators say that the word “chifa” is a Peruvian word that would have been formed by taking the Chinese words “chi” and “faan”, which mean “to eat rice”.
However, new research indicates that the Peruvianism “chifa” would have arisen from the union of the voices “chiu” and “faan”, meaning “to cook”, which also belong to the Cantonese dialect, the language of the first Chinese immigrants who arrived in Peru.
Thus, when the pullers of the business called the people indicating that they had already cooked, they did it by shouting “chiu – faan”. Until the word ‘chifa’ was born.
The custom of using chopsticks has transcended borders due to the great influence of China in the world; however, few know how they began to be used as tableware. Tang tells some theories that there are some versions on the matter: It is said that they were used to take out and put food in the fire.
Others mention that Confucius himself referred to the need not to have knives and cutting elements both in the kitchen and at the table. It is also added that the type of food that is prepared is always cut into very small pieces, so there was no need to cut the food before eating it.
As it was, this custom spread to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and even further away, such as Japan and others. Currently they are used in Peru, as well as in Chinese and Japanese food places such as sushi.
The expression “tall tales” usually refers to a lie or an invented story. Ruben Tang explains that this meaning could have been attributed to the stories told by Chinese immigrants coming to Peru.
Stories from the other side of the world, and from a culture so different from ours, that they were not credible. Definitely, the cultural exchange between Peruvian and Chinese culture has been a constant feedback and it seems that it will continue like this.
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