Saturday, March 28, 2009

PERU: WHEN YOU TRAVEL WITH BOB YOU EAT INTERESTING THINGS

Bob loves to eat. Bob LIVES to eat. This makes him a fun travel companion because we always make an effort to seek out the best of the local cuisine.

At LAX, the best local cuisine was found in the See's Candy store. (After all, it was Valentine's Day!)
We ate breakfast in our hotel in Lima the first morning. This is eggs benedict, made with salmon instead of ham. Oh. My. Goodness.

Our very first lunch in Lima was also absolutely incredible. It was a buffet of traditional Peruvian foods and we ate and ate and ate and ate and ate.

This is ceviche, the national dish of Peru. It is raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice. It was fabulous. Here's a sampling of the cold dishes. The green and yellow pinwheels at the very bottom of the plate are called causa, which is mashed potatoes rolled around a filling. The filling in the green one is octopus and spinach. The purple stuff on the left is octopus in a tasty sauce. There is ceviche in the mussel shell, and the pink meat at the top is a Peruvian specialty that became one of my favorites: trucha (raw red trout).
And here are some of the hot dishes: rocoto relleno (stuffed pepper), arroz con pollo (the green one), sangrecita (cooked blood--not found on MY plate pictured below, but on Bob's), chicharrones (a lot like spicy fried chicken), etc.
The other dish we saw on practically every menu in Peru was lomo saltado, strips of beef fried with vegetables and served over french fries:

We waddled out of that meal, but it was a good warm-up for what was yet to come in other fine dining establishments, including lobster thermidor . . .

. . . and rice-stuffed squid (which was actually much better than it looks here).
For a little background on our next two dishes, you need to know that month or so before our trip, Bob bought a book called Eating in Peru. He determined what were the MUST HAVES: cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca (an animal like a llama but smaller and with much finer wool).

We got especially excited to try cuy when we got to Cusco and saw this interesting painting of The Last Supper in one of the cathedrals: Note the dish in the foreground. That's cuy being served. If that's what was served for The Last Supper, it had to be good!

We found a great restaurant where the cuy was cooked in an enormous clay oven,

then served in two different ways:Cuy #1

Cuy #2

They did a pretty amazing job on the alpaca as well,
served here in a beautiful, tasty pool of quinoa. The meat was tender and flavorful, like an exceptionally good beef steak.

I think out of everything new I tried, my favorite was the trucha (trout filets), shown below as an appetizer.
A close runner-up would be this absolutely amazing rocoto relleno (stuffed pepper), stuffed with a whole egg, rice, and cheese and served in a quinoa sauce.

Everything we ate was served with great artistry, from main dishes to desserts.

At the end of our trip, when there was no more room anywhere in my body for more fattening food, I ate this delicious fruit plate (starfruit, watermelon, papaya, and passion fruit, which was a tart seed in a gelatinous base) served with a little dish of honey for sweetening.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, including our culinary quests in Peru.

This is one of our last meals together. Do we look fatter? I'm glad Bob and I are at the other end of the table...

Overall, I'd have to say the food in Peru far exceeded our expectations. We were blown away by the uniqueness and variety in the cuisine (no refried beans or tortillas--which is how we Norte Americanos stereotype all the food south us), as well as by the artistry with which it was served. Which of these delectable dishes would YOU like to try?

4 comments:

  1. You have to talk with Billy about the food. I think he misses Peru everyday. (He also told the girls that there was no way they would ever have a hamster, guinea pigs or chinchillas because he ate so many rodents on his mission)

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  2. GUINEA PIG????? How could you???? Chris

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  3. Funny, the lobster looks like it ate the ceviche and blew up!

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