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30 Catt. 2: In re Peruvian Brothers

2014 April 16
by CATTLEYA, J.
Peruvian Brothers

Peruvian Brothers

Opinion of JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

Peruvian Brothers has a lot to celebrate. Earlier this week, it marked its one-year anniversary. Earlier this month, USA Today named it one of the District’s top 10 food trucks. It was also voted this month by Washington City Paper’s readers as the best food truck of 2014.

One look at the truck, and it’s easy to see why food truck aficionados have taken a liking to Peruvian Brothers. In a field crowded with kabobs and Asian fusion dishes, its Peruvian offerings are something different. It also has the frills of a business that seems to have considered all of the details, like sleek white food boxes sealed with brand-popping logo stickers and a website with images that look straight out of a professional photo shoot. 

Of course, none of that matters here in the halls of justice. All that matters is the food. Good food remains good even if prepared by a little-known purveyor or served in plain packaging. And, of course, bad food remains bad even if it comes from a popular purveyor or in fancy packaging.

Branded packaging

Branded packaging

Fortunately, Peruvian Brothers is not trying to hide bad food behind its pretty exterior. The food—I had the Empanada de Pollo and Chancaca Bread Pudding—was good. Quite good in the case of the latter.

Before I can elaborate on the empanada and bread pudding, I must address where the burden of proof lies in each case. Because empanadas are true street food, I must affirm Peruvian Brothers’ empanada unless I can prove a significant flaw. On the other hand, bread pudding does not meet this court’s definition of street food, so this dish must prove its own merits. See In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011) (defining street food as “the kind[] . . . that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up”); In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012) (discussing the burden of proof for street food); see also In re Caribbean Café Truck, 21 Catt. 1 (2013) (explaining that empanadas are street food).

Now on to the food.

Empanada de Pollo

Empanada de Pollo

Peruvian Brothers serves its Empanada de Pollo with wedges of fresh lime and a light dusting of powdered sugar, as is traditionally done in Peru. The pastry achieved a beautiful golden color and flakiness, and it was neither too thick nor too thin compared with the meat filling that it encased. While the powdered sugar initially seemed out of place, it added a little sweetness to the otherwise savory dish. The effect wasn’t memorable enough, however, to say that it was an essential component, and I would have been just as satisfied without it.

For me, the best bite of the empanada was not the first one, but the second. The first bite broke through the pastry and exposed the chicken filling, allowing it to be doused with lime juice. The lime added a tangy finish and a little moisture to the second bite. The chicken filling needed it. Although well-seasoned and tasty, it leaned on the dry side. This was more likely due to the style of preparation (chopped) of the chicken filling rather than to any execution problems by Peruvian Brothers. I must admit that I am not a fan of chopped meat. It’s texturally uninteresting. Even worse, chopped meat, especially when finely chopped, looks too much like canned pet food.

This unappetizing thought went away as soon as I put a spoonful of Chancaca bread pudding into my mouth. My thoughts quickly turned to the syrupy treat. This was no boring, dry bread pudding. Soft and moist bread was soaked through with the taste of honey, cinnamon, and cloves. Walnuts and raisins were mixed in and added texture. It was wonderfully rich and filling.

. . . So much so that half of it was enough. As bread pudding is naturally heavy, the portion size seemed too large. Luckily, Peruvian Brothers serves the bread pudding in a resealable plastic container that can be stored in the fridge for a second round. It’s worth doing this, even if you’re hungry enough to finish it off in one sitting. Somehow, the bread pudding manages to be even better the next day.

For the reasons above, Peruvian Brothers’ Empanada de Pollo and Chancaca Bread Pudding are

AFFIRMED. It is so ordered.

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