Finding a restaurant with food that reminds him of home was a difficult feat for Ronnie Gonzales, a native of Peru, owner of Jumping Lomo Peruvian food truck. As a result, he gave up his dental career to start his own business with his wife, Jessica, serving traditional Peruvian cuisine that Latin Americans could find a sense of comfort in.
“I’m proud to be the only one in the area,” Gonzales said. “I want to continue to get my name out there, share my food, and share my culture… I love breaking stereotypes when I go somewhere new. Latin food isn’t just burritos and tacos.
He said his house sauces are what really speaks to the authenticity of his menu. The two options being huancaina sauce, a mild cheese sauce, and rocoto sauce, which is a spicier version.
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“All of our plates come with our house sauce and that just gives it that homey taste. When I give it to a Peruvian, he’s like, ‘OK, it’s over now,’” Gonzales said.
Gonzales, who grew up in Peru until moving to Miami when he was 11, said many were unaware of his native cuisine in Pensacola. Even though Peruvian restaurants in Miami were as prevalent as Mexican or Chinese restaurants are in Pensacola.
Because authentic Peruvian food is so rare, one compliment he consistently receives is “Thank you for bringing something different,” Gonzales said.
Regarding cooking style, he said Peruvian cuisine is filled with Chinese influences, due to the great migration of Chinese people to Peru in the 1930s and 1940s. He saw this mixture of cultures in the first-hand cooking in her family, as her grandmother is Cantonese.
He said his Asian fusion style replicates many Chinese cooking techniques, such as cooking meat over an open flame, while being infused with Peruvian flavors and spices.
The Asian influence is evident in the dish chaufa de Gonzales, a Peruvian-style fried rice, served with green onions, eggs, a choice of meat and Peruvian spices and which ranges in price from $12 to $14 depending on choice of meat.
“When we were choosing the menu items, the fusion of Peruvian Chinese cuisine is so important in Peru. Chaufa is one of those representative plates,” Gonzales said. “It’s like everyone ate it, everyone had it, it’s something known internationally.”
The truck’s signature and namesake dish, the Jumping Lomo, is also a bestseller. It consists of sautéed sirloin steak, onions, tomatoes, Peruvian yellow peppers and spices, served with white rice and fries. The dish starts at a price of $12.
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The peppers tend to make the dish taste more aromatic or floral rather than spicy, he said. All dishes can be adjusted in spice level to the customer’s taste, since they are prepared to order.
One dish he considers one of the most traditional on the menu is his Peruvian ceviche, which is a mix of fresh fish and seafood cooked in lime juice, cilantro and Peruvian spices. The plate is served with red onions, Peruvian cancha or fried corn and sweet potatoes and starts at $12.
Due to Peru’s capital Lima’s proximity to the coast, ceviche is an easily accessible, everyday dish that Peruvians grow up eating, he said. He tried to replicate the process of obtaining seafood as locally as possible, sourcing from Joe Patti’s Seafood Market in Pensacola.
He said the food truck also gave him the opportunity to share his Peruvian culture, which takes the culinary arts very seriously. Gonzales teased that in Peru, 90% of Peruvians know how to cook, but 100% of Peruvians are food critics.
“It’s hilarious,” he said. “Even my mom was visiting, I let her try my food, and she said, ‘Well, you can put that in, or you can take that out, or you should start doing it that way.’ .. but that’s how it is . We Peruvians are like that. I think it’s because we have such a variety of dishes in Peru and we are so proud of our culinary arts that we are picky and very selective in what we eat.
Jumping Lomo runs through different locations to set up around Pensacola, but can be tracked Social Media for weekly times and locations. Next on Gonzales’ list of stops will be Gallery Night in downtown Pensacola on Friday from 5-9 p.m.