Try This: Chancaca

Taranta's Jose Duarte is sweet on this cane sugar.


(Chancaca photo by Sam Kaplan. Food styling by Kelly Upson.)

As the success of restaurants like La Mar Cebicheria in New York and Picca in L.A. demonstrates, Peruvian cuisine is on the upswing. And with the launch of Somerville spots Mixtura and the forthcoming La Brasa, from Sel de la Terre alum Daniel Bojorquez, the trend is migrating north. Of course, Jose Duarte has been serving his hybrid of Peruvian and Italian fare at the North End restaurant Taranta for more than a decade. There, he relies on chancaca, a raw, unrefined South American cane sugar, to sweeten his food. “The specific chancaca from Peru has really nice aroma and unique flavor,” Duarte says. Thanks to notes of nutmeg and anise, the sugar works wonders as a glaze for pork chops. A bonus? Chancaca retains many of the nutrients that are typically stripped from granulated white sugar — a sweet deal, indeed.

Available at Frio Rico, a shop in East Boston, or online at