The holiday season in Peru wouldn’t be the same without the panetón, a sweet bread loaf with Italian roots that’s been infused into Peruvian culture. Giving and receiving these golden domes of goodness in Peru is a festive tradition that gains popularity with each passing year. Even expatriates and travelers pick-up on the craze as early as November.
Aleks J. is Latin America For Less’ self-proclaimed panetón junkie. When he’s not busy putting his website skills to the test around the holiday season, he is likely sampling the variety of delicious panetón options available.
“I like panetón. There seemed to be a lot of different varieties at the store, but very little information about them online,” said Aleks. “Last year I tried various types and I would say the classic panetón is my favorite, which substitutes the candied fruit for pieces of chocolate. Various brands make them and they match perfectly my love for panetón and chocolate.”
Aleks narrows Peru’s craze for panetón into 4 contributing factors:
#1 Panetón Taste
“I admit that there are far tastier things out there so this is not the biggest selling point, ” Aleks said. “Good brands will up the scales, but in the end, it’s just sweet bread.” The more notable characteristics of panetón are its aroma, texture and gluttony.
#2 Panetón Aroma
“Aroma is probably its most distinctive quality,” Aleks explained. “For those that love panetón, its aroma will have you speed eating through the main course in anticipation of your holiday dessert.”
#3 Panetón Texture
The texture of panetón depends on the brand.
“When determining quality, texture is the biggest variable with a wide spectrum of possibilities.”
#4 Panetón Gluttony
Gluttony is the by far the most enticing variable of Peru’s panetón addiction.
“It’s not the type of food where you cut off a small piece and only take one bite,’” said Aleks. “Panetón lovers generally show no shame in going back for additional servings, likely something to do with the holiday spirit.”
In Peru, buying panetón – not making it from scratch – is common practice. This seems to set more reasonable expectations during the busy holiday season when long lines compliment last-minute gift shopping and there are work deadlines to meet before the end of the year.
Supermarket aisles in Peru display an overwhelming selection of this delicious holiday treat to satisfy any taste preference or budget. There’s the classic panetón along with special ones with orange and raisins, or wheat and walnut flavored options for the more health conscious consumer.
“Wong probably has the best selection of panetóns in Lima,” said Aleks. “But apart from that, I would go around to smaller places, like bakeries and see what they have on offer.”
If you’re lucky enough to be in Peru for the holidays, then try this sweet bread – it’s not hard to miss at the grocery store! For those of you at home, try adding a special Peruvian touch to your holidays this season and make your own panetón to share with family and friends.
Happy Holidays, from our Latin America for Less team!
Britt is a California native who left her home to explore South America in 2013 and now lives in Peru. She’s just a little obsessed about planning getaways with her family, scuba diving, and trekking.