Monsefú Life

Ark of taste
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The life (Trichomycterus punctulatus) is a freshwater fish found in the rivers of the Andes, in the north of Peru. This siluriform fish as an elongated, gray body with black patches and a small semicircular head.

It lives mainly in rivers and streams, but it is also able to adapt to different habitats, such as ponds, canals and small lakes.

It can be found especially in the departments of La Libertad, Cajamarca and Lambayeque. In this last region, it is farmed in paddy fields.

The life is mostly active at night, when it searches for food such as herbs, crustaceans and insects. It swims against the current, a feature that is exploited by fishermen who try to catch it by placing their traps facing towards the valley.

Fishing is concentrated at the beginning of the rainy season, marked by the summer solstice (December 20-23 in the southern hemisphere), and in May and June.

In the myths of the Moche, the life was a magic animal: its nocturnal behavior and the habit to swim against the current made them think it was a sort of connection between the world of light and the world of darkness. In addition, its presence during the summer solstice was seen as a good omen for a prosperous and fertile time.

The life is particularly appreciated in the cooking of northern Peru: it is used to make ""panquita de life"", one of the signature dishes in the gastronomic tradition of the district of Monsefù. The dish is prepared by marinating the whole fish in chili, coriander and chicha de jora. It is then wrapped in the leaves of a corn called choclo and char-grilled.

It still has an important role in local cooking, but its presence in the rivers and streams is endangered by indiscriminate fishing and water pollution. Because of climate change, its biological cycle is changing and hindering its reproduction.

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La Libertad


Production area:Monsefú, Lambayeque Province

Other info


Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Dauro Mattia Zocchi, Carlos Wilfredo Diaz Linares