Celebrate the San Juan Festival In Iquitos Peru

by Captain Bill

Come Celebrate the San Juan Festival In Iquitos Peru

This is my juane for the San Juan holiday

This is my juane for the San Juan holiday.

Come to Iquitos Peru to help celebrate the San Juan Festival and to get a good feel for this unique culture born from the rivers and rainforests that surround the people of Iquitos. San Juan Bautista, or John the Baptist, is the patron saint of the Amazon. He is honored with a huge party in San Juan, the suburb of Iquitos named for him, from June 22 to June 27, with special attention paid on his birthday of June 24. That party gets happier and happier and carries over to June 25 when it is affectionately known as Sanjuancito.

The San Juan Festival has evolved into a colorful combination of Catholic religious reflection, and pagan dancing, drinking, feasting, and cockfights. The emphasis for this article will be the feasting, which begins in thousands of kitchens where the women work all day over the wood fire, the charcoal grill, or the stove, cooking the deceptively seemingly simple local delicacy…can you guess…the juane. Very few people in Iquitos will consider the San Juan Festival complete without enjoying a juane.

Do not be fooled if you read how a juane is like a tamale because they are both wrapped in leaves and boiled. That is like comparing a pigeon to a goose because they both have feathers. Two distinguishing flavors in a juane that can not be replicated are the jungle root spice guizador and the jungle bijao leaf that wraps the juane.

Marmelita’s mother Filo makes the most delicious juanes I have ever tasted. She boils her chicken with a lot of garlic and cumin, a little pepper, a few bay leaves, finely shredded guizador and vegetable oil. She cooks until the chicken is very tender and the water has evaporated to just the essence. To be efficient she boils her eggs with the chicken.

Cook the rice separately, then mix together with the essence of spices. When the mixture has cooled, break in and stir in enough raw eggs to hold everything together.

Put a handful of the mixture on the bijao leaf and make an indentation in the mixture to put the piece of chicken and a little chopped hard boiled egg in the center. Cover with the rice mixture, form into a ball, wrap in the bijao leaf, and tie with the traditional bombonage palm leaf fibers. Boil for another hour and a half.

My juane was delicious. Marmelita's Mom made it for the San Juan Festival, and for me.

My juane was delicious. Marmelita's Mom made it for the San Juan Festival, and for me.

Enjoy with a cold beer and you are ready to celebrate the San Juan Festival in Iquitos Peru.

Come Celebrate the San Juan Festival In Iquitos Peru

Bill Grimes, president of Dawn on the Amazon

Read here to discover more exciting Recipes of Peru from Dawn on the Amazon, and here to learn how The Festival of San Juan Nearly Blocks Traffic to The Amazon Golf Course.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt Grimes June 26, 2009 at 5:50 am

You seemed like a juane expert, until you mentioned having them with a beer. Everybody knows its juani with camu camu! Nice table.

2 Captain Bill June 26, 2009 at 6:59 am

Camu camu would be a better choice, but during the San Juan festival a lot more beer gets “drunk”.

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