What does “Anticucho” mean?

For many Peruvian historians the word anticucho comes from the Quechua antikuchu (anti=Andes, kuchu=corte or cut). Others believe that it is a melding of the Quechua words anti meaning Andes and uchu meaning aji (a hot pepper). Linguists argue that it comes from the Quechua word antic-uchu, a name given by  ancient Peruvians to a very hot soup, prepared with a special pepper from the jungle.

What we know for sure is that Anticuchos are a popular and delicious dish originated in Peru, and consisting of small pieces of grilled skewered meat.

If you are in Peru you can find Anticuchos on street-carts and street food stalls (anticucheras). The meat may be marinated in red wine vinegar and spices (such as cumin, aji, garlic or annatto seeds), and while anticuchos can be made of any type of meat, the most popular are made of beef heart (anticuchos de corazón).

But, what is the origin of the Anticuchos?

According to documents in the National Library of Lima’s archives, anticuchos came to life in the 16th-century, after Peru became a Spanish colony. The Spanish brought their own style of cooking into the country, along with foreign ingredients such as beef (which replaced llama meat), garlic, cumin and vinegar. But the reality is that: were the African slaves, not Peruvians or Spaniards, the ones who mixed Spanish staples with native hot peppers to create the iconic dish now known as anticucho.

The history starts when wealthy Spaniards came to live in Peru and for that, they built haciendas to live in. In the coastal region those haciendas were cotton and sugar plantations sustained by the labor of black slaves brought by the Spaniards from Africa. The hacendados (owners of the haciendas) periodically slaughtered a cow for food, and then, they used to give the innards—which they considered garbage—to their slaves.

Because the slaves needed to eat, they were forced to make the innards edible. But how? They saw how Andean people seasoned their food with native hot peppers, and on the other side, they had access to Spanish ingredients such as garlic, vinegar, cumin and salt, through those who were working in the hacienda kitchens. So, why not mix it all together and make a sauce to season the innards? They did, and what amazing surprise, it was delicious!

Soon, the innards were diced into bite-sized pieces and soaked in the marinade for hours. The absence of proper stoves forced them to cook over a fire, and that was another problem they easily solved, how would they hold the tiny pieces of meat to grill them? The answer was easy,  sugar cane stalks were ideal skewers.

At this moment the anticucho was born.

Now, If you want to taste a delicious anticucho…Don’t miss this opportunity!


Dates: Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th of September, 2010

Venue: The Lincoln, Kings Cross

Price: $100 ( Five course dinner w/ pisco cocktail)

$80 ( Five course vegetarian dinner w/pisco cocktail)

Time: Guests to be seated from 6.00pm to 8.00pm

Bookings at: info@peruvianconcept.com or 0413624840

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2 Responses to What does “Anticucho” mean?

  1. Rita says:

    Extrano estos anticuchos de Peru I really miss those anticucho from Peru. I like your site.

    • "A taste of PERú" says:

      Hi Rita,
      Thanks for your comment! We are really glad that you like our site.
      If you want to have delicious anticuchos, join us at PERUVIAN textures next 8th and 9th of September. With a welcoming Pisco sour to start, a five course menu with beautiful dishes like ceviche, anticuchos, picarones and much more…Don’t miss it out!
      We’re having so many events coming up, stay tuned because Modern Peruvian Cuisine is in Sydney.

      Buen Provecho!


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