Andean food culture: Peruvian edition

160 day dry aged wagyu beef served in the back of a butcher shop and eaten with your hands?

In Lima, Peru?

Really?

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Yes please!

Great article on Renzo Garibaldi, “the meat prophet”.

Tyler recently waxed eloquent on Bolivian food culture, but to me it’s a bit wider than that. I’d call it Andean food culture, and it’s very strong in Peru.

You can easily get like 10 different kinds of potatoes, the corn is simply amazing (see what I did there?), and now BEEF!

Me and Mrs. Angus have long been plotting another trip to Peru, and Mr. Garibaldi’s exploits have moved it up the queue at least a few places.

 

An A for Effort, Peruvian edition

The World Bank has a round-up of the 2012 PISA scored that were just released.  There really weren’t any surprises in the top group, which consisted primarily of East Asian countries. But there was some good news for Peru, which has improved more since 2000 than any other country (by 76 points in math, 57 in reading, and 40 in science). Of course, they were starting from a low base, but it is still impressive.

Here are the countries that have improved the most in each category:

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Corruption and Colonial Legacies

There has been some great work in the last couple of years investigating the long-run effects of Spanish colonialism on Latin American development.  Melissa Dell’s “The persistent effects of Peru’s mining mita” is one example (it was published in Econometrica but here is a working paper version).

I just learned of another interesting working paper on this general topic.  The author is Jenny Guardado R. and the piece is called “Office-Selling, Corruption and Long-term Development in Peru.” I haven’t read it yet but it’s moving to the top of my pile.  Here’s the (rather long) abstract:

This paper investigates the private returns to colonial offices and how these influence long-term economic and political outcomes across sub-national provinces in Peru. Exploiting exogenous variation in the needs of Spanish monarchs to sell offices due to fiscal emergencies induced by European wars and employing a unique dataset of the prices at which they sold them, I show how rates paid for colonial offices exhibit a pattern consistent with rent- seeking. In particular, positions with greater access to rents from agriculture and to gains from trade monopolies exhibit differentially higher prices than others. A closer look at the mechanisms behind these results reveals that when faced with a trade-off between revenue and quality of colonial officials, the Crown generally chose the former. The result was a decline in the ability of the Spanish monarch to monitor and enforce colonial policy limiting rent-seeking. I then present evidence demonstrating that these activities exerted negative influences on development over the long run. Specifically, provinces with highly valued offices in the 18th century today have higher poverty rates, lower public good provision and lower household consumption. One reason why the effects of rent-seeking persisted is through political conflict: provinces with highly valued offices also exhibited frequent anti-colonial rebellions, heightened anti-government violence and a deep-seated mistrust of politicians and democracy today. These results suggest that corruption have negative lasting consequences for economic development by exacerbating political conflicts.

h/t Justin Sandefur

The old ways aren’t always the best ways

In a recent Boston Globe article, “Lima: Where the pallbearers are black,” I learned that there is a long racist tradition in Lima of only using black pallbearers.  Apparently, the custom started in colonial days, when the elite typically had many slaves in the household.  According to a historian of Peru’s slave trade, Maribel Arrelucea,  ‘‘to have one’s body carried by a black is understood by many to be a symbol of prestige, just as it was in the colonial era when the aristocrats of Lima went to church accompanied by a slave.’’

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While the tradition never took off in any other Latin American country (or even other part of Peru), it still seems to me a mark of prestige in Lima.  I didn’t even realize that being a pallbearer was a full time job, but apparently it is in Lima.  The city has “about 50 pallbearers, organized into teams, and each man earns $5 per burial or about $70 a week, the equivalent of minimum wage. They are contractors, not funeral home employees, hired on a per-job basis with no benefits.” {Sidenote: how can there only be 50?}

In an ironic moment, Peru’s “most prominent funeral director,” refuted claims that only employing blacks as pallbearers is somehow racist.  His reasoning:  blacks know better than  “laughing or making faces’ at funerals. ‘‘

While it is considered a mark of elegance and honor to have black men serve as pallbearers, the men who get into this line of work do so because of a lack of other opportunities.  The article notes that around 10% of the Peruvian population is of African descent, but only 2% of that population attend college.  There are almost no blacks amongst the Peruvian elite (either in the government or in the private sector) and almost all work in manual labor jobs like in the sugar cane plantations by the coast.

I don’t think the answer to the problem is simply to prohibit blacks from being pallbearers, but a recognition of the tradition’s racist past as well as a plan to promote opportunities for blacks would be a step forward.