For “What I Ate Wednesday,” I would like to share what I ate in Peru.
I tried to sample a lot of traditional Peruvian cuisine, but I was less adventurous than usual when I first arrived. I wanted to be extra careful to avoid getting ill before hiking the Inca Trail, so I passed by the very little restaurants and street food. I regret not picking up a snack of gigantically-kerneled corn with a slice of cheese alongside the road during a bus break, though; I thought I would get the change to try it later, and I hunted it down, but I didn’t find it again.
First of all, I did try guinea pig, which I had been wary of months ago since I used to have a pet guinea pig named Chewie. (Link: Peru, My Pet, and a Moral Dilemma)
Cuy (Guinea Pig)
Guinea pig is an important food in Peru and a part of the local culture. There was surprisingly little meat (my pet had been pretty chunky), and it was baked to smithereens, but it was tasty, with chewy (sorry Chewie!) bits of dry meat, kind of like a barbecued spare rib. Three of us tried it and had a few nibbles each.
Alpaca was on a lot of menus, served in many different ways. In this dish it was served in a steak with mashed potatoes. It was tough but flavorful.
Soups were very commonly served as a first course to a meal. This quinoa soup was perfect on a night when I didn’t have much appetite. (My appetite disappeared for most of my trip, I guess because of the high altitude.)
This Andean stew had lamb, chicken, and pallares (Lima butter beans). It was delicious, with a very rich broth and tender ingredients. It was served with fresh bread, fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
This causa, “stuffed mashed potatoes,” was really tasty. It was stuffed with chicken and avocado and served cold.
This lamb stew was okay, but it was more like a cutlet of lamb with some stew vegetables scattered around.
Breakfast tended to be bread with jam, fruit, yogurt, and sometimes puffed grains.
On the Inca Trail
The food served while hiking the Inca Trail was a pleasant surprise. The porters woke us up in our tent with a hot cup of coffee. We had three breakfasts on the trail: crepes, porridge, and eggs. We had a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner, some Peruvian, some with French sauces. They even surprised us with a cake on the trail. I lost my appetite for most of the hike, so I would eat a little and hand the rest over to my older teenage son, who had a never-ending appetite. (Three of us lost weight on this vacation, while he gained a few pounds.)
Lunch on the Inca Trail: asparagus soup, trout with rice and vegetables, and black corn pudding
Rural Lake Titicaca Islands
We ate on two beautiful islands on Lake Titicaca that were both very rural, Amantani and Taquile.
On Amantani, where we stayed overnight, our hostess made our simple and satisfying vegetarian meals on a very basic stone oven.
Boiled potatoes with fried cheese
On Taquile, we had fresh trout from Lake Titicaca with crisps (French fries), rice, and vegetables.
Make your own hot cocoa
So good: I made my own hot cocoa by mixing chocolate, hot milk, honey, and chili powder (at Choco Museo).
I hadn’t even known about cocoa tea.
We had to try a Pisco sour.
But I skipped trying the “integral mold bread.”
All in all, it was a great trip with great food.
What I Ate In… Series:
See also: Hiking the Inca Trail