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Monday, November 28, 2011

Gastronomic Capital of the Americas

For my week in Lima, I lived with a host family and went to school a couple hours a day. The school turned out to be kind of expensive and not so useful, but my time with Soledad and Lyonel at home proved to be much more rewarding. Let me start off by saying that Peru (specifically Lima) is considered to be the gastronomic capital of the Americas, and Soledad definitely held up that reputation with every single meal she cooked. My day would start off with having fresh, so delicious Peruvian coffee every morning with a freshly squeezed papaya strawberry juice and buttered roll. Peruvians are NUTS about bread! I was really surprised, because I thought things would be a lot more corn-based than wheat-based. I have bread at least once a day here, as you can buy 5 rolls for 1 sole (about 33-50 cents). I would come home at lunch to a delicious home-cooked meal and all three of us would eat together. My favorite meals were aji de gallina, a rich shredded chicken in peanut-y sauce served with yellow potatoes and hard boiled egg, and escabeche, spicy chicken served with sweet potato, choclo (really fat kernel corn), and a hard boiled egg. We usually had Inca Kola at the table, which I am not a fan of. It is bright yellow soda that tastes like bubble gum that people drink like water here. Coca Cola is also very popular here (and owns Inca Kola) and sometimes that would make an appearance as well. I didn't take any pictures of the food, so google image search will have to do to give you guys an idea of what it's like.

Inca Kola


Aji de Gallina

For dinner we usually had leftover lunch, although one night we went out for chicharron sandwiches, arroz con leche, and mazamorra. In the United States, chicharron is what we call pork rinds, made from pig skin. In Peru, it is actually deep fried pork belly, and the sandwiches at this place had a slice of sweet potato and red onions tossed in lime juice on it. It was amazing! Arroz con leche is rice pudding, and mazamorra is a hot pudding that is made from Peruvian purple corn, cooked with pineapple, cherries, and cinnamon. Needless to say, I left that dinner stuffed and ready to take a nap.

Chicharron sandwich

Mazamorra morada

On my last day of class, my Spanish teacher took me to a chocolate shop that had the most delicious traditional Peruvian chocolates. Called tejas, these chocolates are wrapped in white or milk chocolate, and have manjar blanco (dulce de leche, essentially) inside along with nuts, dried fruit, or candied lime peel. These things are dangerously good!! I had one with rum raisins, another with pecans, and another which was an entire hollowed out candied lime peel (how did they do that?!) filled with manjar and coated in white chocolate.

Teja de pecanas and limon rellena - candied lime filled with manjar blanco

I haven't eaten so much delicious food in one week before, and I can't wait to see what the rest of Peru will have to offer. Every Peruvian I have met loves food and is very proud of their national dishes, so I know that I'll be able to try a lot more delicious food while I'm here.

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