I sat down with Jonah Yoder, Goshen College graduate of 2019, to learn about his cookbook, “¡Buen Provecho!”, that will be released on Dec. 8. The cookbook features recipes and stories from his three months studying abroad in Peru.
Gabe Miller: How did your interest in cooking begin?
Jonah Yoder: I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I remember being in the kitchen with my parents and watching them cook and and really being fascinated with how things come together and learning recipes, but also just experimenting as well.
I started when I was young but my passion for it didn’t start until around high school and into college.
Recently there have been a couple of times where my mom or someone in my family would want me to cook and they would just like, throw ingredients at me.
And they’d be like, make something. Kind of like the show “Chopped.”
GM: So when you were choosing your SST location, food was on your mind.
JY: It definitely was.
GM: What’s one great food memories you have from your time in Peru?
JY: Once, our whole group was going on a field trip. And we went to this elderly woman’s house. And she brought all 23 of us into this tiny little apartment and we all sat down and she made picarones for us, which are Peruvian donuts.
And we got talking, and I was like, I really enjoy cooking and I would love to learn.
And so she brought me into the kitchen. She was like, here, this is how you do it, you form the donuts with your hands, and then you throw them in the oil and then she went to flip them.
And so I wasn’t even intending to and she brought me in and was showing me how to do these sort of things.
GM: And so you decided to do a cookbook for your final project on SST, right?
JY: Yeah. From the beginning, it was sort of a collection of recipes that I collected throughout my time on SST and I didn’t think it would be something that I could sell or go and give people sort of thing. I thought it was more just for myself and having those memories.
And then while I was there and I started collecting recipes from my host mom in Lima, and then also on service in Ayacucho, I was like, this is something that I could share with people.
GM: Peruvians are really proud of their food. What makes Peruvian food special?
JY: I think it’s rooted in their culture so much. Their history has food that goes along with each tradition, whether it’s a wedding ceremony and having a particular dish, or whether it’s Pasqua, which is the week leading up to Easter.
They don’t eat meat for all of that week. And then on Easter, they have a big celebration with family or with their neighbors. or that sort of thing.
[Food] helps them express themselves and their culture to each other, and to other people.
GM: What is the base of Peruvian cooking?
JY: Ha. Rice, potatoes and chicken. No matter what time of day, no matter what season, there will most likely be rice and potatoes and very likely chicken.
The Aji pepper is definitely used a lot.
GM: And those aren’t so easy to find in the States, are they?
JY: No, they’re not. That was something that I struggled with because having a Peruvian cookbook in the United States is kind of counterintuitive because you can’t really have a traditional Peruvian dish outside of Peru because there’s so many things that are very centralized to Peru or key aspects of Peruvian cuisine that you can’t get in other places.
You can find Aji sauces that you can buy online, though. If you’re in a larger city, you probably have access to those in Hispanic or South American Markets as well.
GM: When can we get our hands on the book?
JY: I’m having a release party at Anna’s Bread on Dec. 8 from 1-3 p.m.
Follow Buen Provecho on instagram and facebook, or email Yoder at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length