I know I wrote a little about the foods of Peru during my home stay, and at times it may not have been in the best of light. Particularly the pig fat section. Due to that I felt I owed it to this fabulous cuisine and country of supreme agriculture to provide some more light on the issue.
In short the cuisine is fabulous, fresh and cheap. This perfect trilogy. I think it is in part due to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and there respect for her and what she has provided. Even from the formation of there terraces. Unlike developed countries that bulldoze there way through beautiful terrain to build huge concrete and glass monstrosities the ancient people of the Andeas built things using and around the exiting landscape. Constructing there terraces so that they worked around large boulders and rios (rivers) and elegantly making there way up the mountainside. A beautiful balance and harmony that you just can’t help admire as you walk or drive through this country. Truly in every aspect the respect and love for Pachamama envelops you.
Consequently, as my mother always said “if you cook with love, it always tastes good”, or something to that effect. Obviously, then almost everything tastes good. I can’t say totally everything, because heck those Incas were pretty anger people at times. But who wouldn’t be if you were constantly being attacked.
Some of the best dishes are the mouth watering steak, that just melts in your mouth like butter. Ponderosa has nothing on these all you can eat salad bars and steak houses, accompanied with Sangria and finished off with ice cream.
Roccoto Rellena, is another great meal. Hot red pepper stuffed with chorizo and other meats. Cuy, guinea pig, however is not a lot of bones and really hard to find the meat. It’s good but hard to get any substance out of. Other great meat dishes are alpaca and llama. Yeah, I know too cute to eat, but real lean and tasty.
For those pescatarians, seafood is in abundance on the coast. From delicious citrus ceviche and amazingly crisp and salty fried turcho (salmon). Just be careful of the bones.
Don’t despair vegetarians, although there is tonnes of meat here this is a vegetarian mecca. They produce the best asparagus, sweets and biggest green peas I have even had pop in my mouth. Carrots, green beans, potatoes of 32 varieties, big, small, white, purple. Yucca, like a potato but starchier and great fried and dipped into guacamole. Ohhhh, sweet avocados and guacamole. Not to mention corn, large kernels, eaten with a hunk of cheese bought form the street ladies, (choclo con queso). To large toasted kernels covered in salt like unpopped popcorn. Totally addictive.
The sauces that accompany almost all dishes just add to the fresh factor. Roccoto, a hot pepper mayonnaise sauce. A great pesto type sauce, mixed with small tomatoes and soda crackers. Lastly a herd sauce. All fabulous toppers!!!
Of course the old world grains that give these folks their ability to walk for hours with little food is superior to any supplement. Quinoa, full of calcium, kiwicha, energy and vitamin C. Last but not least maca, one of the active ingredients in Viagara and a super energy booster.
If I could just stop eating the sweet stuff I would be really healthy here.
Now to the sweet, sweet stuff. I have definitely over indulged in the dulce de leche or manjar as they call it here. It is smothered on all types of cakes, cookies and pastries. You can even just buy a bag from the store and squeeze it on biscuits. Bad idea, but great for trekking. On the healthy side, fruits galore. Peruvian papayas of every colour, small sweet bundles. Mangoes that drip down your chin in luscious goodness. Pineapples, and other more exotic like lucuma and macuya, sweet and tart citrus fruits. And another I can’t remember the name of at the moment, but is green skinned that when peeled reveals white fleshy fruits each having it’s own black seeds.
Be prepared folks for Peruvian Fest night at my house when I return.
Until then bon provecho.