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anil

Peru -- Peruvian

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Hello all,

I wrote this for another egullet forum, but thought I'd add it to a general Peru thread, in case anyone was interested. this is from a two-week trip that my husband and I recently came back from:

My husband and I ate well. Potatoes, of course, with the famed hauncaina sauce which is a mild, tangy cheese sauce. Every now and then we'd get toasted corn kernels for nibblies with drinks (pisco sours -- lime, pisco (a grape brandy), sugar syrup and frothy egg white -- or algarobinas -- no lime, carob syrup instead, for "damas" we were told). We tried llama and alpaca (slightly gamey) and guinea pig (fatty little beast, the meat is similar to rabbit). Quinoa is now our favourite grain (we had a quinoa "risotto", as well as thin porridge, and a stacked quinoa/roast veggie patty).

In Lima we ate tons of ceviche, in places low and high. It tends to be served with bits of pale, fat kernelled corn, in a lightly spicy lime bath. We did have a great version at Costernera 700 (where politicos and novelists eat) that was gingery and soyed. There we also ate fabulous salt-baked chita (a largish white fish, possibly grunt), some mediocre chinese-inspired seafood dumplings, and baby octopus.

My favourite discovery in Lima was a dish prepared with chunks of octopus and covered with a black olive and olive oil sauce (looked creamy purple). Mmmm. I'll definitely try to remake that at home.

we went on a trek, in which we were fed like royalty by a couple of cooks working magic with two gas burners in a tent. Lamb stew, fresh lake trout with a ground cherry (type) sauce, sweet potato chips, different types of potatoes, fresh popcorn for tea time, mulled wine... Great soups, involving lots of vegetables. Often the meat we had would be covered in a sauce consisting of lots of pureed veggies (achieved by pushing through seive), which we were assured was "typical".

coffee was almost always Nescafe. Had some splendid jams (particularly a papaya-pineapple one, spiced with clove) and lovely fresh juice (papaya, strawberry, pineapple, orange). There was an odd fruit called lucuma, which on my last day there I realized I hadn't yet tried, so I ate lucuma ice cream, and a lucuma fruit I picked up a grocery store. It's an odd thing, with kind of a dry zucchini texture, like foam. I unfortunately can't think of it without feeling a bit queasy, as something that very last fruity meal made me sick. Drag, although if I'm going to get the stomach wobblies, the timing was good.

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Sounds like a great trip and inspiring. I was in Peru a long time ago, on a really tight budget. I vaguely remember all the varieties of potatoes, but your note has given me an idea of returning again. Were you eating in higher end restaurants or a combination of market food and restos?

s

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Just got back from a trip to Cusco & Machu Picchu and thought this would be a good place to post. We had a wonderful meal in Cusco at a restaurant called "Pachapapa", which is in the San Blas square. (Also lots of fun gallery/antique stores on that square!)

Anyway, you sit in an interior courtyard next to a beehive woodburning oven:

gallery_19995_278_1098492985.jpg

The day is sunny, the weather is warm, there's a gentleman playing traditional guitar...

gallery_19995_278_1098492946.jpg

To drink... chicha de jora, which is the tradtional fermented corn beer... it's a little on the sweet side, but foamy and delicious. Not to be confused with chicha morada, which looks & tastes like grape juice and is non-alcoholic. I love chicha de jora :wub:

And, naturally, pisco sours. Which will knock you on your butt at that altitude.

To eat... adobo de chancho (in front), which is pork stewed with aji chiles, chicha de jora, onions & a kind of a sweet potato. Also aji pizza, made in the wood-burning oven, and another pizza with cured salted alpaca meat (this one was eaten too quickly to be photographed). All served with a small dish of spices (hot!!!) and a fresh green salsa.

Way in the back of the picture (we had this delightful dish in a couple of places) was pollo de amarillo, which is chicken in a creamy aji amarillo pepper sauce with potatoes & onions.

It was wonderful.

Also went to Chez Maggi's in Aguas Calientes... they (well, the whole town) was without power (therefore no photos... too dark), so we dined by candlelight and everything was from the wood-burning oven. Pizza & calzones! They had a fabulous sangria made with white wine & apples. We had some fresh salsa here as well, but while the salsa tasted delicious, it was the unfortunate cause of "Incan Revenge" later on.

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El Señorío de Sulco in Miraflores, Lima is a great place to go to safely try nearly every dish you could possibly imagine in Peru.  My mouth is watering just writing this.  They have a buffet and it really is good!!!

Lots of other good restaurants in Lima : from inexpensive to very expensive.

Enjoy!

yes this is a great restaurant....good food and good chef ,, flavio solorzano for his young age its doing a great job

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Wow! I didn't knew that Peruvian cuisine could be all this.. In nearly all my cookbooks, the only peruvian recipes are different forms of boiled potatoes and chevice...

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Just spent nine days in Peru and thought I'd write a bit about the food there.

Peruvian specialties I did try: pollo a la brasa, cabrito (goat), fried yuca balls stuffed with cheese, alpaca, and pisco sours. All were delicious.

Specialities I didn't try: cuy (guinea pig) and ceviche, because we just never got around to it. Didn't want to risk it at a street place and never had the time to set aside for a nice restaurant while we were on the coast.

If you're ever in Cusco I highly recommend an adorable little restaurant called El Grano -- it's Asian-inspired food in a little bare-wood cafe environment, very comfy and delicious-smelling. Unfortunately all I could eat was half a baked potato, because this was at the worst of my sickness, but everything looked delicious and my dining companion was thrilled with his chicken curry.

Delicious food everywhere we went, though. A great country to visit if you're a foodie!

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I spent ten days in Peru two years ago doing pretty much what any good tourist would do, Puno and Titicaca Lake, Inca trail/Machu Pichu and Cusco and a little bit of Lima. My wife and I both thought that cuy was one of the best things we ate there, and to echo a previous post, it is somewhat reminiscent of frog legs, kind of stringy but very moist and delicate! If you get beyond the idea that without the cute fur it does look like a rat, you'll be just fine. We had it in Cusco in a restaurant located right off the Plaza de Armas, in a small street just a few meters up from the Iglesia de Triunfo.

The market located near the train station is also pretty cool, there we bought lots of coca leaves which we brought back with us. Back home we had our fair share of mate de coca each night!!

Ceviche which is a specialty of the coast obviously is like nothing else i've had in the US, a nice sour "zing" with a little spiciness. We tried two places which we stumbled upon in Miraflores and we liked both of them.

Another great thing to look for are the small lunch joints frequented by the locals (which we ate in a lot in Puno and Cusco). They generally serve what they call a "Menu" which would normally consisit of a soup, entree and dessert all for no more than 3 soles (a buck fifty nowadays?). A great bargain and good food in general.

For snacks we ate lots of dried corn, we just didn't realize how much variety of corn there was, all kinds of sizes and colors, quite amazing.

Peru is beautiful and a great place for people who love good food!!!

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Obviously..... I have a bit of a bias, seeing as how all of my family is from and still lives in Peru, BUT with that caveat...

Peru is a country that values its food like few other countries do. They have such pride about it, and with reason. You can walk into any Peruvian house on a given day/night and have a spectacular meal- they demand, and expect it (in this they are much like the french). For this reason, all of the products they buy are superb quality (that, and the fact that the land is so rich in resources and the geography so diverse). However, Peruvians are not food snobs- they know that their culinary roots come from poverty-driven necessity, therefore the cuys and the papa seca and the use of every animal part (again, kind of like the french). For this reason, they are just generally fans of good-tasting food. Places like KFC have found a huge market in Lima especially, because peruvians love fried chicken! However, because they demand such quality, any fast food place there is incomparably better than what one would find in the states.

The key factor in this 'food culture' that Peru has is that it does not revolve around restaurants. Generally, Peruvians eat out (to nice restaurants) only on special occasions, a couple times a year. Most of the get-togethers occur at people's houses, and the hosts take it upon themselves to make huge, varied, and delicious meals.

On another note, any of you non-natives that went to Peru:

Did you try any Lucuma products? I am a firm believer that as soon as it edges its way into some niche markets, it is a fruit that will EXPLODE in the states... who's with me?

Mariana

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Mariana - Thanks for your insights, I guess this is lucuma? During my short visit, I don't think I came across this fruit. What does it taste like and more importantly, how is it eaten/used?

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Oh, Lucuma!!

When I was little, every time I visited Peru the first thing I would do was eat lucuma ice cream- it's incredible.

Lucuma fruit is very odd. The outside is a leathery green skin, and the inside is a dense, dry, pasty pulp somewhat similar to that of a (cooked) sweet potato.

The taste is really hard, if not impossible to describe... it's not too sweet, not acidic, but it's very deep and rich and strong flavored (horrible description, ill have to eat some and ponder! my family smuggles the pulp in frozen ziplock bags, mmm). It's rarely eaten "as a fruit" because a lot of people are put off by the starchy texture and the strong flavor, but I love it.

Lucuma is most commonly used in desserts, especially ice cream (it's one of the "main" ice cream flavors, along with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry).

They will also use it in other things like mousses, sauces, as flavorings for cakes, etc. etc. It goes marvelously with chocolate.

Here is a pretty good site about lucuma

Ask me anything! I love it..... if you want, we can discuss the wonders of peruvian olives....

Mariana

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Thanks for the info, since I doubt i'll be going to Peru or even anywhere near there sometime soon, I guess I'll have to wait until it is imported in the US to try it!!!

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Peruvians have many soup-like dishes on their menus. There is one called an aguadito. Does anyone know what distinguishes a dish called aguadito from, say, one called sopa or chupe? (Caldo is more or less a broth.)

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Has anyone bought cashews in the markets and see that they are called either anacardo or maranon there? I'm thinking these Spanish names aren't in common usuage there. Probably they are called and spelled cachues??

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I love Peru, but I ate mostly in a home and I am still waiting for recipes for causa, aji de gallina and aji de camarones. (I do not speak Spanish so I may have screwed up the spelling there.)

Lima had everything, but unfortunately most times when we went out my host insisted on his club, which was way too international. His wife and I snuck out oine day and ate at a street cafe in a poor naighborhood-- super and at one of the restaurants mentioned above.

Of Cuzco restaurants I remember nothing. I must have eaten?

At Arequipa we were seriously altitude affected so ate carefully, but included lots of potato varieties, including the grain sized dried one used to thicken things. Walking the markets was mind expanding to say the least, although it was hard to see so many infected and sick kids.

I looked at a lot of cookbooks when I came back, but none of the recipes resembled what I watched the cook make when there.

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Ok.. this question might sound odd, but

Is it true that you eat Guinea pigs in Peru? that you at least can get served it up in the mountains.. Is this a myth? because it seems like that in a way.

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Guinea pig, or cuy, is a traditional Peruvian dish. It is not a myth at all. I've seen it at very fancy restaurants as well as less expensive holes in the wall.

I was in Cusco in April and tried it at a very upper class restaurant. I didn't particularly care for it....I think it's an acquired taste. But I wanted to try it.....my philosophy about food is that if lots of people like it, there must be something good about it. (That's how I discovered sushi :rolleyes:) If you're interested, I blogged about it in my first blog entry.....here's the link

http://www.mylastsupper.typepad.com

You'll also find there a picture I took of a guinea pig "corral" where many cuys we being raised and fattened for future consumption.


Edited by constanela (log)

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Guinea pig, or cuy, is a traditional Peruvian dish.  It is not a myth at all.  I've seen it at very fancy restaurants as well as less expensive holes in the wall.

I was in Cusco in April and tried it at a very upper class restaurant.  I didn't particularly care for it....I think it's an acquired taste. 

Yes indeed - In fancy restaurants(one's attached to international hotel chains) however they tend to take the foreigners icky-factor away - The more delicious one's are at the local places or roadside shacks on the way to Cusco :wink:

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Well, this thread has been silent for far too long! Wait for it, guys, in a couple years Peruvian restaurants are going to be popping up all over the globe (it's already starting to happen, wouldn't you like to say that you've been in-the-know all along?)

Anyway, i'm going to Lima august 17 for my cousin's wedding (my fam pretty much all lives there). I'm wondering if anyone is up with the latest on the culinary scene? I know all of Gaston Acurio's restaurants are very in vogue, particularly La Mar, which I'm hoping to get to. I went to Pescados Capitales several years ago before it became the huge huge place it is now. Places I have NOT been are the very high-end fine dining places like Rafael and La Rosa Nautica. I'm going to try to go to Astrid y Gaston, because i kind of feel like it's a must-do (and very sad that i haven't yet). Other than that i will probably gorge myself on lucuma ice cream, peruvian olives, and ceviche.

If anyone else has any input/suggestions/questions, please let me know!

(or you can just voice your jealousy at my good fortune...)

Mariana

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Mariana,

Can I say this in our discussion group? My culinary travel guidebook to the foods of Peru (Eat Smart in Peru: How to Decipher the Menu, Know the Market Foods & Embark on a Tasting Adventure) was published a couple of months ago. When we all were asked recently about news of interest to eGullet-ers, I sent a short PR but don't know if it was put online here. You can read more about the book on amazon.com or ginkgopress.com.

We spent about 2 months in Peru, eating and eating and eating. Sigh. Oops, could have said suspiros :-)

To your question, the book includes a chapter of recipes contributed by some of Peru's finest chefs (plus several more chapters to make you pretty savvy about Peruvian food). We visited many restaurants throughout the country and had a great variety of dishes demonstrated for us. In Lima, you might also want to try A Puerta Cerrada, Senorio de Sulco, Huaca Pucllana, Astrid y Gaston, Manos Morenos, Wa Lok, Punta Sal and Naylamp (sorry, all accent marks omitted).

BTW, this book is all about WHAT there is to eat, not where to eat it, tho if you look at the picture captions, see the chefs and dishes photo'ed, etc. etc., you can get a pretty good idea of where we were and what we thought about the food.

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BTW, this book is all about WHAT there is to eat, not where to eat it, tho if you look at the picture captions, see the chefs and dishes photo'ed, etc. etc., you can get a pretty good idea of where we were and what we thought about the food.

I think i have a pretty good handle on what there is, I grew up on Peruvian food and that's pretty much what i eat at home (my family is Peruvian and everyone but my mom dad and brother live in Lima). I'm actually writing a section about Peruvian food for a guidebook myself! My question is more about which restaurants are up and coming and not to be missed, (i'm particularly interested in Novo Andino food) i can get the insider limeño input but i also wanted to know if the international community had anything to say.

Anyway, let me ask you a question: i know which things i find to be interesting, remarkable, and desirable, but my guidebook's audience is primarily North American and European, so i was wondering what you personally found interesting (that a standard breeze through Peruvian food wouldn't cover)

Also, did you get a chance to go to Wong, the supermarket? It's pretty spectacular in service and quality of ingredients. I'm thinking of including that as well.

Cheers! Mariana

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Hola Mariana,

I'm the director of the Travel Publishers Assn. Which of my 80+ member pubs are you writing for this time? I love them all, the behemoths with a begillion titles down to those with single titles!

You probably don't have too many pages to work with, so making choices on what to include beyond the basics may be a bit difficult. It's hard to condense when there are so many wonderful ingredients and dishes you want to mention.

In my experience, the one food item that comes up immediately in any conversation about Peruvian food, one that negatively resonates with people who have been to Peru, and even many who haven't been but are in the "know," is the Peruvian fondness for guinea pig (cuy). Since we in the US and in many other countries tend to think of guinea pigs as pets, or at least not something to eat, the response to eating them is typically one of, well, disgust. We ate them in the name of research.

Here's an opinion to share with you as you contemplate your game plan. Countless people have mentioned to me that one of the biggest problems with guidebooks is that the restaurants mentioned for a particular locale/city in any given guidebook are the only ones that a great many travelers dare to venture into. This means, they state, that the restaurant's clientele (depending on the size of the guide's readership) is primarily made up of travelers carrying the same book, (and therefore they all have the same handful of restaurant choices)-- and they say they don't travel to a foreign country to eat with their compatriots, nice as they may be. These people tend to use guidebooks for info on sights and places to stay, and ask locals or hotel staff for recommendations of good eateries that aren't full of tourists. It's difficult to get around this problem. Space limitations of your chapter dictate how many restaurants you can add, and many of your readers will go to the ones you mention, repeating the cycle alluded to above. In my culinary guidebooks I discuss what there is to eat so don't have this problem, and an additional benefit is that my guidebooks don't go out of date.

I wish you well on this project. Peru is such a grand destination!

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Cuy certainly didn't resonate negatively with this North American when he was in Peru. I gobbled them up. Delicious!

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haha, unfortunately not all tourists are intrepid foodies. and really, i can't blame them that much, the little cuys are so cute and furry.

(i ate one last week...muhahaha)

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One of my chief complaints about any writings of Peru is that they tend to focus almost exclusively to the south. I did a climbing expedition a few years back that based out of Haurez and I had some great meals there. The food was, in many ways, different from that down south (and I don't remember ever seeing cuy on the menu). Being on a very tight budget, I focused on the Chifas and papas rellenos. However, when I returned to Lima I focused my eating in Miraflores....ahhh...I'll never forget my favorite heladoteria (sp?) on the square. I ate there 6 times in 3 days.

The beginning of my trip was staying with locals in Lima, and every meal started with a soup, and ended in some gloppy potato and/or chicken dish - all had wonderful ajis. The other great memory was that they served lemongrass tea with every meal - very sweet!

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