Panetón Peruano: A Christmas Exposé

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Sometimes in life you have to muster the courage to stand up and take an unpopular stance – a stance that perhaps goes against the opinions and tastes of your loved ones and peers, or even an entire nation. For me, this is that time. I’m just going to say it:

Panetón is A Christmas Abomination.

For those of you unfamiliar with this dry, joyless mound passing for a fruit cake variant, panetón is an extremely popular holiday dessert in Peru (país natal of my mother). Every year starting in November, the grocery stores, kitchens, billboards, and even parking lots of Peru are inundated with it. Exhibit A:

the booth where you pay for parking has been transformed into a giant panetón box…
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In an attempt to understand why panetón is a national obsession in an otherwise culinarily perfect nation, I did some investigating. I didn’t really arrive at any explanation, but I did unearth a bunch of creepy facts:

1. Panetón was first sold in Peru around 1900, when the ice cream magnate D’Onofrio brought the recipe over from Italy (where it is originally from, and where it is called “panettone”). Italian food and Peruvian food are probably my two favorite cuisines, and I refuse to believe that either place could have conceived of something that tastes like sweetened packing peanuts. I’m going to go ahead and blame this one on the British. I don’t know how, but they were definitely involved. Also, “D’Onofrio” has the most confusing logo ever. I definitely thought it was “D’Anafria” for almost my whole life, it’s like they want us to fail:

2. 19,000 tons of panetón were eaten in Peru 2010. 19,000 TONS. To put this in perspective, a male elephant weighs an average of 6 tons. So Peruvians ate the equivalent of a fleet of 3,166 panetón elephants. So aggressive.

3. Peru has 110 brands of panetón. That seems pretty excessive. That is 109 too many.

stacked to the ceiling
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4. The candied fruits on the inside are often made with candied watermelon peel and dyed to appear like different fruits, because panetón is made with trickery and lies and deception.

5. There is actually an “essence of panetón” that is sprayed in the box or bag before sealing it to intensify its smell because PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY INTO THAT. This is especially crazy considering how intense panetón already smells. That’s like spraying your bacon with eau de pork before you eat it.

Which, now that I think about it, actually that sounds like a great idea. Ok fine, criticisms retracted.

Where do you guys stand? Do you love or hate panetón – let us know in the comments below.