Gastronomically speaking, Peru is a kaleidoscope of culture, the culmination of a nearly 500-year melting pot of Spanish, African, Japanese, and Chinese soldered together by the country's own indigenous cuisine.
Quintessentially simple, many of the country's best dishes are peasants' fare: whole fish pulled from the Atlantic Ocean and cut and served raw, or rice and bean-based platters accented with pit-roasted meats.
While you can find pollo a la brasa on nearly any South Florida street corner, archetypical Peruvian fare like anticuchos (grilled skewers of meat and shellfish) or arroz chaufa (Peruvian-Chinese fried rice) can be harder to find.
In Pembroke Pines, however, you have some options thanks to a number of restaurants spread over a few miles west of I-95 along a Peruvian-inflected strip of Pines Boulevard.
This is where you will find C-Viche Restaurant, which joined the ranks of the area's small, family-run establishments about six months ago with little fanfare. Located in a strip mall best-known for the lure of craft doughnuts (Mojo Doughnuts is next door), the restaurant is easy to overlook despite a bold red sign.
C-Viche will win no awards for its decor; a dining room is lunchroom-casual, with barren walls and nothing but a pair of TVs blaring Spanish programming. Tidy rows of white tablecloth tables with seating for two to four are all you get in terms of atmosphere, and a short bar offers nothing but import beers -- like Peruvian Cristal -- and just one type of liquor, enough to make a few potent pisco sours. Yet despite its dismal trappings, C-Viche has managed to make its mark the old-fashioned way: by serving well-made, regional dishes presented by Peruvian-born chef and owner Miguel Rios.
Rios hails from the city of Piura, located in a province in northwest Peru, with the Andes Mountains to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Home to one of the oldest mestizo cultures in South America, the area is known to gastronomes the world over for dishes like seco de chabelo (dried jerky-like meat, mashed green plantains, and fermented corn juice), algarrobina-sweetened drinks, and its own take on ceviche -- what could be considered Peru's national dish.