By:Kelly Merritt (Naples Daily News)
One of the biggest ingredients in good Peruvian cooking is family. Family members often work together. Brothers and sisters are partners and parents often help children establish and run businesses.
Gonzalo Torres owns and operates Gustitos Bakery Peruvian Cafe with his family, including his father, Oscar, and mother, Rosario. They created the menu from 25 years in the bakery business in Peru.
A major component of traditional Peruvian food is the lucuma ? a subtropical fruit with a dry, sweet skin often used for sweetener ? which Torres uses to create everything from smoothies to tarts including his lucama chocolate tarts.
"When we tell Peruvians we have this, they go crazy because they know it," said Gonzalo Torres, who also serves several Peruvian sandwiches. Among them are the triple sandwich with avocado, egg and tomato and chicharron with sliced pork, sweet potato, onion and yellow pepper sauce.
Gustitos has earned a cult following for its empanadas baked fresh several times a day and filled with everything from lomo saltado (steak), aji de gallina (chicken with yellow pepper sauce) to vegetarian options and sweet empanadas such as apple and coconut-pineapple. Torres' menu of empanadas is the most requested item on his catering orders.
"You can eat empanadas anytime during the day ? an apple-caramel in the morning and the artichoke empanada for lunch instead of something like a heavy burger," his wife said.