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Eating Boldly in Lima, Peru

Alpaca carcasses on the butchers counter in Lima, Peru. Photo: Claire Walter for TravelBoldly.com
Alpaca carcasses and Guinea Pig on the butchers counter in Lima, Peru. Photo: Claire Walter
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Guinea Pigs destined for the dinner table as "cuy"  not to be a child's pet. Photo Claire Walter for TravelBoldl.com
Guinea Pigs destined for the dinner table as "cuy"
not to be a child's pet. Photo Claire Walter

Eating Boldly in Lima, Peru.

Guest post by Claire Walter

You might mistake the “animals” section of any of Peru’s larger food markets for a pet store. You’ll see cages populated by cute guinea pigs, but they are not destined for a pampered life in some niño’s bedroom but for the family dinner table. Home cooks may purchase the animals live and do the dirty work themselves, or purchase skinned, eviscerated and perhaps boned specimens. This rodent is not everyday fare but is considered a special-occasion dish.

Peppers hollowed out for stuffing but with what?  Photo Claire Walter for TravelBoldly.com
Peppers hollowed out for stuffing but with what? 
Photo Claire Walter
When guinea pig appears on restaurant menus, it is listed as "cuy." It tastes much like rabbit, though usually somewhat gamier. Depending on the part of country, it might be served in a spicy sauce with potatoes or rice, fried and topped with achiote sauce or baked. I’ve been told that in Cuzco, it is baked whole, as a small suckling pig would be, but with a hot pepper rather than an apple in its mouth. I never saw that, nor did I ever see or taste picuro, a lowland rodent that is also eaten.





First-time visitors to the Andes are schooled in
 Alpaca on the menu prepared two ways.  Photo Claire Walter or TravelBoldly.com Alpaca on the menu prepared two ways.  Photo Claire Walter or TravelBoldly.com
Alpaca on the menu prepared two ways.
 Photo Claire Walter 
the differences among the four Andean camelids (llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas). Llamas and alpacas are domestic livestock, while guanacos and vicuñas are wild. An alpaca might end up on your dinner plate. You probably won’t see a live alpaca being led into a market, but you will see skinned loin quarters in the butcher section. Peruvians also eat pork, goat, mutton and venison. And many are fond of organ meats. Chirimpico is a stew made from a baby goat’s entrails, onions, garlic, hot peppers, cilantro, squash and tender corn.

 This corn is similar to the ancient maise that powered the rise  of the Peruvian culture 5000 years ago  Photo Claire Walter for TravelBoldly.com

This corn is similar to the ancient maise that powered the rise
 of the Peruvian culture 5000 years ago.
Photo Claire Walter



If the meats make you squeamish, know that Peruvian cuisine also features fabulous seafood. The country is, after all, right on the Pacific Ocean where the cool current from Antarctica brings nutrient-rich waters to the Peruvian coast. The result is super-fresh seafood. Peruvians are particularly fond of ceviche, raw fish marinated in lime juice and usually served with raw onions. Sea bass is the favorite fish for ceviche, but other white fish and shrimp are also used. Ceviche is so much a part of Peruvian culinary culture that the country declared June 28 to be Día Nacional del Cebiche in honor of this beloved dish, but it is celebrated mostly in and around Lima.

The number and variety of vegetables, tubers and grains that originated in Peru will boggle your mind. Potatoes? Corn? Both Peruvian and in a rainbow of colors.  So many vegetables, both native and introduced, thrive in the country’s climate zones from sea level to Andean. You’ll find them in markets and on menus.

Picarones are Peruvian donuts made by deep frying a combination of sweet potato, squash, flour, yeast, sugar and anise. Photo by Carlos Varela for TravelBoldly.com
Picarones are Peruvian donuts.
Photo by Carlos Varela 
And what of dessert? Picarones are Peruvian donuts made by deep frying a combination of sweet potato, squash, flour, yeast, sugar and anise. What’s the Spanish word for “addictive”?













Claire Walter is an award-winning travel and food writer and blogger, and the author, co-.author or contributor to some 20 books.  She blogs about travel at http://travel-babel.com and about restaurants and food at http://Culinary-Colorado.com

Take your daughter to work day Peruvian-style Photo Claire Walter for TravelBoldly.com
Take your daughter to work day Peruvian-style. Photo Claire Walter




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