This Peruvian Food Truck Is Taking LA by Storm, Inspired by Owner’s Upbringing in Coastal Peru
We grew up with comida en la casa, but we also want to support those who make us comida en la calle. That’s why this Latinx Heritage Month, mitú has partnered with El Jimador to spotlight small business owners to aid the Latino Community Foundation. Juntos, we build on our efforts to foster inclusivity and amplify Latinx voices.
Mikuhna means “great food” in Quechua, the ancient language of the Inca, whose empire sprawled across Peru for centuries. And rightfully so, as this happens to be the name of Karla Flores’ food truck, carefully chosen to describe the delectable Peruvian dishes we all know and love.
“[The name] comes from our ancestors, and it’s really meaningful because it covers so much. In Peru, food is not just something you eat to live. You eat it because it’s part of who you are,” Flores shared.
Flores, who was born in northern Peru and emigrated to the U.S. when she was nine, says that she grew up in the kitchen, helping her mom at parties. “It’s not like here where you can just get a caterer,” she said. “Over there, everybody pitches in. It’s part of the celebration.”
However, Flores wasn’t always determined to be the head cook of a wildly successful food truck.
With a degree in mechanical engineering and a love of the sea, it wasn’t until a sailing injury benched her that she happened to take a cooking class, decided that was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, and never looked back.
However, opening up her own food truck did not happen without hardship. “There were times when I almost quit … it’s hard work,” she stated. “We began very, very humbly, some days not making any money at all. And then one day, it just took off!”
Flores recalls her “mama, I made it!” moment: “I got a random call from somebody in New York who had heard about our food from a friend of theirs, and this person called me to find out where we were going to be the following week because they were coming to the West Coast and really wanted to try our food. I was like, ‘Wow—people know who we are!’”
Speaking of food, Flores highly recommends trying the ceviche or the saltado de mariscos, since those fresh fish flavors remind her of what she ate as a child in coastal Peru. “I grew up eating fried mojarra that had been caught at 5 o’clock that morning for breakfast,” she laughed.
She remarked on the important link between food and identity, adding, “When I moved to the states, [food] became even more important to me, since it was the one way for me to have that deep connection to my roots.”
The lomo saltado with garlic rice and the papa a la huancaina, topped with an aji amarillo-cream cheese sauce, both also sound outstanding. Still, Flores believes that the essence of Peruvian food is not about flavor — but about people.
“The love and effort people put into cooking Peruvian food is incredible,” she began. “Peruvian food is influenced by not only Inca food, but also Spanish, French, Italian, Creole, African, Chinese, Japanese… everything has left its little dent and it makes for the big rainbow that is Peruvian cuisine.”
And what a delicious rainbow it is.
To learn more about how you can help elevate the Latinx community alongside El Jimador and the Latino Community Foundation, visit LCF.
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