Mama Irma Restaurant brings Peruvian food to Fountain SquareINDIANAPOLIS (September 29, 2011) - Hilda Cano is a woman with a big heart, and a passion for the culture and cuisine of her native Peru. And what a culture it is. Modern Peru is built on the traditions of the indigenous Inca people, and shows the influence of three immigrant groups – Spanish, African (Creole), and Japanese – sprinkled with bits of Italian, French, German, and Chinese.
Born in Lima, Hilda came to America at age 10 to attend school in Miami. There, she lived with her aunt and was a cherished part of her close-knit, extended family. She returned to South America at 15, and immersed herself in the culture and cuisine of her native Peru, becoming a tour guide and eventually running her own travel agency. Nineteen years ago she moved to Beech Grove, Indiana from Hawthorne, New Jersey, and now, after a stint as an interpreter for Federal agencies and running her own cleaning company, she’s poised to open the doors on her Fountain Square restaurant that features traditional Peruvian dishes. The endeavor is a family affair, with Hilda’s brother, sister-in-law, and her son joining together to provide financial resources and manpower.
Mama Irma Restaurant is a cozy room at 1058 Virginia Avenue, next to Joe’s Cycles and across from the Murphy Arts Center. “Mama Irma” was Hilda’s mother, who taught her how to cook, and how to love others through food and family traditions. “This restaurant is a monument to Irma, and her legacy continues through the things I learned from her in the kitchen,” says Hilda. For Hilda, cooking is a passion; making people happy through delicious Peruvian food is her goal. And she doesn’t want her customers to just taste the food, she wants them to get a taste of Peruvian culture too. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere and decor will introduce diners to Afro-Peruvian music, along with some special surprises.
Peruvian cuisine is the result of the country’s cultural mashup. But it is also shaped by the stunning biodiversity in Peru’s three distinct geographic regions: the mountains and plains of the Andean highlands (potatoes, corn, and rice), the tropical rain forest of the Amazon basin (fruits and spices), and the waters of the Pacific coast (fish and seafood).
You’ll see all of this reflected in the menu. Appetizers will include ceviche made with fresh, seasonal fish and seafood, and Jalea, a dish of fried shellfish, fish, and yucca topped with a sliced onion salsa. Potatoes will take center stage in papas a la huancaina, which features potatoes in a creamy Peruvian cheese sauce, and causa, a cold mashed potato cake stuffed with chicken salad.
Main courses will include Bisteck a lo Pobre, flank stake over french fries, with fried plantains and white rice, topped with a fried egg. Lomo Saltado, another beef dish, is a stir fry of flank steak, rice, tomatoes, and onions, tossed with french fries. Aji de Gallina combines chicken with a creamy sauce flavored with parmesan, walnuts, and spicy aji peppers. Peruvian minestrone is sure to be a popular choice this winter: meaty beef ribs and vegetables in a light beef broth flavored with creamy basil pesto.
Desserts will continue the fusion theme with organic mandarin cake with whipped cream, black forest cake, upside-down custard, homemade cheesecake, and alfajores - traditional (albeit a tradition of Middle-Eastern descent filtered though Moorish Spain and remixed in Central and South America) Peruvian sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche.
Diners looking for the total immersive experience will want to try the Peruvian version of chicha morada, a non-alcoholic drink made with purple corn and pineapple, spiced with cinnamon, clove, and anise.
Mama Irma Restaurant will also offer a lunch menu of fixed-price meals featuring an appetizer, entrée, and drink. On Saturdays and Sundays they will serve Peruvian breakfast with baked ham beginning at 9 a.m.
Hilda Cano has been moving towards the October 14th opening day for a long time. “I’ve been, literally, cooking the idea of this restaurant for 30 years,” says Hilda.
About Fountain Square Fountain Square continues to flourish as a microcosm of global cuisine: Greek, Thai, Pan-Asian, traditional Mexican and Cantina, Italian, British Pub, Barbecue, American Bistro, and classic American diner. Mama Irma Restaurant adds Peruvian to the mix. These are the kind of locally-owned restaurants with reasonably-priced, delicious food that become popular favorites with foodies, the culturally adventurous, and the locals too. Fountain square has a lot of them, all in one walkable neighborhood just southeast of downtown. More information at www.DiscoverFountainSquare.com
Mama Irma Restaurant
1058 Virginia Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Hours: 11 am – 10 pm Monday through Friday, 9 am – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday
Fountain Square events: