Monday, August 11, 2008

La Comida! (Food!)

Well, first and foremost, we certainly did not go hungry while in Peru.  And for the most part, the food was phenomenal.  Anyone coming from a meat & potatoes area like Wisconsin probably won't struggle too much with liking the food from a meat & potatoes (emphasis on the potatoes) country like Peru.  I am trying the think if there were any meals (other than the one at the Chinese restaurant) that didn't contain either potatoes or yucca (pronounced You-ka, which is another tuber, similar to the potato).  I won't go over every meal, just some of the more memorable ones, or there would be way too many pictures on this post!  Also, I already posted a picture of our typical breakfast on the first day of the trip, so check back to then if you missed it.  Just add scrambled eggs with ham to the picture, and that was what we had every day for breakfast.
Our first real meal was lunch at our hotel in Chincha (Legas Hostal).  The first course was a salad of sorts - cold mashed yellow potatoes formed around chicken salad, called causa.  I know, it sounds awful, but I really liked it, as did the majority of us.  The potatoes had a bit of zip to them, which really complimented the creaminess of the chicken salad.  It was a unique dish and a fun way to begin our culinary adventures!
We ate two of our meals at a nearby restaurant called Luisa.  The first one was a saucy beef dish, served with rice, beans and yucca.  
The second meal we had at Luisa was a very common offering, carapulca con sopa seco.  This is a spicy potato stew served along side mild seasoned noodles (dry soup), yucca, and typically came with chicken or pork (in this case pork).  We also were served this meal (with chicken) by one of the homeowners we worked beside.
My favorite meal of the trip was served at the hotel and is called aji de gallina (ah-he day gah-yee-na).  It may not be the prettiest dish, but I loved it (and yes that is a hard boiled egg on it - I didn't understand it, but I gladly ate it!).  The sauce was a combination of a creamy gravy and shredded chicken, and it was served with rice and potatoes (beneath the sauce).  The point was to mash it all together and enjoy.  It really reminded me of one of my very favorite meals growing up, rice and chicken casserole, but with a bit more spice and texture.  It is on my agenda to try to make this at home!
One of the craziest meals we all enjoyed was eating out at the Chinese (Chifa) restaurant.  This was one we were not prepared for though.  
The food just kept coming and coming and coming.  It started out with a delicious broth soup with wonton dumplings and slices of pork and cabbage - wonderful.  And then began the onslaught of platters.  A dish with mushrooms, broccoli, and chicken (terrific!), a chicken dish with green onions and a salty sauce, pork fried rice, a chicken and cabbage dish with crunchy noodles (possibly my favorite), sweet saucy pork with peaches, and finally finished with freshly brewed jasmine tea.  And by the way, the picture was taken toward the end, after about half the platters had been removed!
Another very memorable meal was on our final work day, when Hector and his family pulled out all the stops to feed us lunch.  They even spread out a beautiful lace tablecloth, that was very obviously saved for only very special occasions.  We had arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), on top of which was potatoes with a spicy cheese sauce.  I wasn't feeling the best this day, but the potatoes and sauce were irresistible!  
And if we all weren't full enough they had also made ceviche for us to try, which is fish and seafood marinated in lemon or lime juice (also served with yucca).  This meal easily cost the family a week's worth of wages, but they gave willingly and happily to show their appreciation.  
There was also many types of drinks that we tried at each meal.  As the water isn't safe to drink without boiling, different ingredients are added while boiling to add flavor.  I didn't write down all the names, but one reminded us of gingerbread, one tasted exactly like Trix cereal, one was a mix of lemongrass and chamomile, we also tried barley juice (much better than it sounds).  
And of course, the national drink of Peru, Inca Kola, which is a sugary sweet, yellow soda that tastes like cream soda but smells like bubble gum.  It was at every dinner out and every lunch.

That, in a large nutshell, was our trip in food.  Lots and lots of incredible food!


Aunt Ruth said...

Your pictures of the food were fantastic! I love seeing that kind of stuff. When Greg went to Europe he only took pictures of bus things! I'm glad you're home safe and sound and had such a memorable and productive time.
Aunt Ruth

Jim and Jenn King said...

Thanks Julie! This is awesome. I have a ton a questions and Jim is right here to answer them. He is normally one of the pickiest eaters I know, so to find that he liked most of what was served is impressive!