Never tell a Peruvian 15 minutes

Peruvians are famous for their rather peculiar sense of timing. Peruvians are habitually late, they call it “la hora Peruana” or “the Peruvian hour”. Even for business meetings everyone is typically at least 20 minutes late.

That isn’t news in itself, I’ve written about this before. However, the other day I jinxed myself, I know better by now…

Since mamacita now works in the afternoons, I’ll try to cook dinner most days right around the time when she arrives home, around 8:30 or sometimes later. Now meals in any Latin culture are typically much later than in Western Europe or the US. We normally eat lunch between 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon, dinner is sometimes as late as 9:00 pm.

As I said, the other day I jinxed myself. I was cooking my famous lemon-pepper baked chicken with tortellini and alfredo sauce… Mira, que rico 😉

chicken with tortellini

Papi's famoso lemon-pepper chicken with tortellini and alfredo sauce

Just as I was getting the water for the tortellini to a boil, mamacita called to say she’d be a little late. I’m not the best cook and I usually wing it a bit when I’m cooking, but one thing I’m picky about is the time to cook the noodles. So as I was talking on the phone I just happened to have the box of noodles in my hand and looked at the “recommended cooking time” and said to mamacita:

… okay, hurry home, the food will be ready in 15 minutes exactly.
… okay, love you, bye.
… okay, love you, bye.

Just as soon as I hung up the phone it hit me. Because the “recommended cooking time” said 15 minutes I told Patricia 15 minutes.

You never tell a Peruvian 15 minutes

You can be assured 15 minutes will be at least 45 minutes on a real clock, and probably closer to an hour. If you want a Peruvian to do something in 15 minutes, you better use words like “hurry up”, “right now” or “2 minutes”. That’s not to be fussy or anything, that’s simply the Peruvian sense of timing.

So I turned down all the food as best as I could, but after about half an hour the little goose and I ate our dinner anyway, since it was after 9:00 already. About 45 minutes to an hour after the original 15-minute call, mommy did make it home and gobbled away the remaining noodles and chicken, which was sort of lukewarm but still yummie 😉

4 thoughts on “Never tell a Peruvian 15 minutes

  1. Up here we call it Mexican time. I thought we already had a patent on it. Ha!

    By the way, your meal looked quite delicious. I’ll stow it away to try in a few months. With the humidity nobody wants to spend much time in the kitchen.

  2. I know what you mean about cooking this time of year Larry. I used to spend a lot of time in Key West flying shrimp larvae to Honduras, and on the non-flying days we tried to survive on frozen Margaritas and the occasional late-night meal 🙂

  3. Now, living in Peru myself, and having used to live in Hawaii, it kind of reminds me of the “Hawaiian Work Schedule” (not sure why) but it is basically the following:

    8 am _ _ _ _ _Supposed to start work

    8:14 _ _ _ _ We finally show up

    8:15 _ _ _ _ _Talk story about last night

    8:42 _ _ _ _ _BOSS SHOWS UP

    8:42 _ _ _ _ WE START WORKING

    9 to 9:17 _ _ Read newspaper in da toilet

    10 to 10:30 _ COFFEE BREAK

    11am _ _ _ _ (write a letter to a friend) Look busy

    12 NOON _ _ _ Time for eat Kau KAU!

    1 to 1:45 _ _ Rest up from lunch

    3 to 3:20 _ _ Another coffee break

    4:00 pm_ _ _ _Time for quit work / Pau Hana!

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