Yesterday somebody mentioned in my comments that they were afraid Peru is becoming too “Americanized.” Although that is true to some extent, I don’t know if we really have to worry too much about American culture completely corrupting Peruvian culture…and that’s because a lot of American culture is just stupid to excess for the point of being stupid.
Take the above image for example. Last year KFC had a “sandwich” that dispensed with the piece of bread and instead served you bacon, cheese, and some sort of sauce on two…count ’em, TWO!…breaded chicken breasts. And although, yeah, this sandwich does sound awesome under the right circumstances, the majority of people don’t go through life stoned 24 hours a day (you know, wouldn’t that be a great premise for a film? How the world would change if everybody was stoned 24 hours a day…hahaha, then you have one guy sobering up and screaming, “don’t do what I did, it sucks!”–satire…).
When you’re worried about the preservation of culture, the first thing you have to do is separate the concept of technological advancement from the concept of culture. It’s absurd to say that any Peruvians who aren’t living in stone huts on the top of beautiful mountains have had their culture “corrupted.” It’s also absurd to equate every technological advancement as an offshoot of American culture (I’m thinking Americans won’t be offering much in the way of technological advancement sooner rather than later…well, since America is about to crumble under the debt of maintaining a small population of wealthy elite, there just isn’t going to be time for inventing anything new).
Lima is a modern city, but I think you’ll find many things there that are the “new” Peru. Gaston is really quite brilliant in how he packages and presents what is “essential” in Peruvian cuisine, and he’s pretty much single-handedly made it a world-wide phenomenon. And although the streets of Lima are polluted with bullshit imports like KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and the like, I really don’t see these restaurants “pushing out” Peruvian food anytime soon. The fact is that the prices at Astrid & Gaston, one of the best restaurants in the world, are not all that much higher than McDonald’s. And if you want to eat on the cheap in Peru, McDonald’s just can’t compete with the local menus that charge S/. 5 or so for a three course meal.
American fast food is founded on being fast and cheap, but their neither cheaper than the local cuisine nor are they faster. Oddly, they’re sort of marketed as food for the elite in Peru, which is bizarre, yet they still manage to stay open, so I guess that’s the power of advertising.
I have an uncle that’s pretty into economic theory and he’s convinced that you can’t convince a majority of the public to accept an inferior product for the same or more cost of a superior one. However, there seems to be more than ample evidence that yes, people will intentionally pay more and receive less. I’ve only just recently discovered that if I buy the no-name products at Aldi grocery stores I get twice as much food for half the cost…yet that place is empty every time I go there as the crowds flock to Wal-Mart or other ridiculous places where they pay more for items whose names they’ve seen on TV.
I don’t know…I guess it remains to be seen if, in the end, common sense will prevail, or people will fully commit to crap just because propaganda has driven it down there throat. Peruvians have the advantage, at least, in that there’s not so much money for everyone so they have to buy the cheaper/better goods out of necessity.
By the way, the chicken tastes better in Peru. Even the KFC chicken which must be jammed packed with spices and preservatives. Sometimes I wonder if we’re getting real food in the US at all.