Tuesday, February 20, 2007
After a particularly trying year in life, I decided to go back to my second home, Toronto, to hang out with old friends for some much needed TLC. So why not drop by Montreal, my favorite city in Canada, and hang out with my buddy Deryk? I emailed my dear friend, and he replies by saying that no can do, he is going to learn Spanish in Peru for the Xmas holidays, and that he will be leaving in 10 days. Oh, and why don''t I come along too? It'll be fun.
Peru? What the hell do they eat there? That was the first thought that came to this self respecting foodie's mind. Ah, What the hell, I was desperate to get away. I mean, come on, I was going to fly to Ontario in the freezing winter for goodness sakes.
Two things I found particularly remarkable in Peru: Ceviche and Macchu Picchu- in that order.
Deryk and I stayed with a host family, and our generous host mother, Nellie, fed us traditional Peruvian fare that consisted of many tasty dishes that involved potatoes. She would also bring home interesting fruits for us to try. It is true, no matter where you are in the world, when people detect that irrepressable gluttony within you, they become your friends and feed you all sorts of strange and yummy things.
We also ate the very popular Peruvian dish: Guinea Pig (a.k.a. cuy). We had it whole roasted, and one that is chunked up and smothered in peanut sauce. You guessed it, it tasted like chicken, but with a tinge of...hmm...fish oil.
After two and a half weeks in Cuzco, we said goodbye to Nellie and her wonderful family and headed to Lima for a couple of days before flying back home. Now, you must bear in mind my intention for Lima. I've had high hopes for ceviche ever since I had an in depth conversation with a Peruvian man and a German missionary at the Miami airport en route to Peru. We chatted for three hours while waiting for our plane, and they told me all sorts of interesting things about Peru, but most importantly, we discussed various aspects of Peruvian cuisine.
They told me that I must eat three things in Peru: Rotisserie Chicken, Chicharrone (deep fried chunks of pork), and of course, Ceviche.
Ceviche is basically fish marinated in lime juice and whatever other condiments you want to throw in. The acid in the lime juice "cooks" the fish, but the texture of the fish remains in its raw state. Deryk and I went to a couple different "Cevicherias", restaurants that specializes in Ceviche. The best one in Lima, I have to say, is Cevicheria La Choza Nautica (Brena 204). They are so popular that there are actually two of them on opposite sides of the same street, facing each other. The options are endless. There are platters with sea urchin, sea snails etc..
Deryk and I opted for the deluxe assortment which consisted of clams, scallops and different kinds of fish. The dish was served with yams and some kind of roasted corn which was not a tasty treat. It was like chewing styrofoam. The yams though, were quite a nice accompaniment. Deryk and I washed the seafood down with some classic Peruvian beverages. Cuzquena Negro is my beer of choice, but Deryk is partial to Inca Cola which reminds me of cream soda. Ahhhh....Ceviche and beer under the hot Peruvian sun....bliss.