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Archive for December 18th, 2008

So Now That I’m in Peru, What Food Should I Eat?

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pachamancaHeard some friend’s friends are going to Peru in the next month. And I realize if you go to a whole new continent and with SO much food to try, wonder if a non-Peruvian visitor would know where to even start?!?

But here is a list of the top five “basic” dishes you might want to make sure you eat before catching that flight back to the US or elsewhere. And when you order, ask what varieties they have: maybe chicken, pork, fish, etc. so you can have what you like.

Top 5 Appetizers

  1. Ceviche (fresh fish marinated in lemon juice with onions, sweet potato and corn)
  2. Papa a la Huancaina (boiled potatoes with a creamy sauce of yellow chili sauce, milk, crackers, and cheese served with boiled egg and black olive on top)
  3. Tiradito (this is similar to the ceviche but just the plain fresh fish marinated in lemon juice – it’s a delicatessen and not too many places have it outside of Peru, so here is your chance!)
  4. Cocktail de Camarones (fresh shrimp with avocado and golf sauce)
  5. Anticucho (grilled steak skewer, many types to try, served often with grilled potatoes and corn)

Top 5 Entrees

  1. Lomo Saltado (stew made of steak, french fries, onions, tomatoes and white rice)
  2. Aji de Gallina (shredded chicken with a yellow chili sauce served with slices of boiled potatoes and white rice)
  3. Seco (this can be made of lamb or steak, it is a stew with cilantro, and served with white rice and beans)
  4. Arroz Chaufa (this is similar to a Chinese fried rice, but make sure you go to a “Chifa”, the name of the cuisine that mixes Peruvian and Chinese flavors. If hungry, this is a perfect place to go as you can get many other types of dishes that you can enjoy with this Arroz Chaufa)
  5. Chupe de Camarones (this is perfect for shrimp lovers, similar to a chowder)
  6. Extra! You might also want to try “cuy”, the famous Andean rabbit. Some people like it, some others don’t. It is a novelty to have tried it.

Top 5 Desserts

  1. Suspiro de Limena (made with an egg yolks base, milk and meringue on top)
  2. Alfajor (cookie sandwich with condensed milk-based sauce in the middle)
  3. Mazamorra Morada (Peruvian pudding made of purple corn with pieces of fruit, such as pineapple, raisins, etc.)
  4. Picarones (Peruvian doughnuts served with a caramel sauce)
  5. Arroz con Leche (Peruvian style rice pudding)

Top 5 Drinks

  1. Pisco Sour (the Peruvian flagship drink made of the authentic Peruvian pisco (alcoholic) , the same all APEC leaders tried weeks ago)
  2. Inca Kola (this is the national soda, and Peru is the only country where a local soda beats Pepsi and Coke on market share)
  3. Chicha Morada (purple corn-based non-alcoholic drink)
  4. Chicha de Jora (traditional drink that goes back to the Inca empire times, made of yellow maize and is prepared with different degrees of alcohol, similar to an apple cider)
  5. Beers: depending on your preference, you can try Pilsen, Cuzquena (my favorite), or Cristal.

Tip: The safest bet if it’s your first time in Peru is to go for a buffet restaurant. Ask your hotel to recommend places where they serve buffets. That way you get a better chance to get a little bit of everything, and go for what you like.

And if you go to a more camp-like restaurant, you might also want to try “Pachamanca” (see picture above). It is food cooked underground with hot stones the same way the Incas did. It can be chicken, pork, steak, etc. and you can also have it with sweet potatoes, corn, potatoes, etc. This is a very unique way of cooking the food, a tradition that has gone through many generations.

And here are the top 5 places to eat in Lima, Peru according to Food & Wine magazine from my earlier post.

Hope this list helps you try some of the best traditional Peruvian dishes during your stay. There are many more options, so if you got plenty of time over there, go for it! The sky is the limit!

Bon appetit!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm

You Can Make a Difference: Support Disabled Children in Peru this Sunday December 21

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teletonThis Sunday, December 21, the biggest charity campaign will take place nationwide in Peru supporting disabled children with the support of the Peruvian government and participating private companies called “Teleton 2008”. The fundraise will benefit the home where all these kids are medically treated named “El Hogar Clinica San Juan de Dios” (Home Clinic St. John of God).

For many years (and goes back all the way when I was a child myself), my family and I participated in donating money by depositing in a bank account in Lima. My parents will do it as a way to develop generosity and support to other children who weren’t as lucky as we were.

And you don’t need to be Peruvian to participate. If you want to make a change in hundreds of lifes of poor disabled children in Peru, you can call the Peruvian Consulates throughout the U.S. and they’d be able to give you more details.

If you are in the Greater Washington DC area, the Peruvian Consulate in DC’s Advisory Committee and its volunteers will be all day  this Sunday at two locations receiving donations in two Peruvian restaurants (what about donating and enjoying a Peruvian-style lunch!?!):

  • Maryland: Ceviche House – 7236 Muncaster Mill Rd, Rockvile, MD 20855
  • Virginia: Restaurant Macchu Pichu – 5912 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

And if you’d like to make a donation directly to a bank account in the DC area, you can also make a deposit in an HSBC bank under the name “Embassy of Peru/Teleton 2008”.

You can also mail your checks to the Peruvian Consulate payable to “Teleton 2008” and sending it to 1625 Massachussets Avenue, NW, Suite 605, Washington, DC 20036.

Join the millions of Peruvians, as well as public and private organizations donating this Sunday. Together, we can make a huge difference for these kids that really need our support!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 18, 2008 at 1:56 pm