The Culinary Tour Continues – Spotlight on Peru

Peruvian food is simply divine, from ceviche to Peruvian chicken to cuy (guinea pig). Cheap and diverse, there is a reason why you see so many Peruvian restaurants (and consequently not as much Burkina Faso-ian restaurants). We tried to eat it all in our 24 days there, which we unlikely accomplished – but we did consume the following:

20-IMG_5362

Our fish dish in Peru was a winner right off the bat. Recoto relleno (stuffed pepper) and cheesy-lasanga type potatoes. Alas we didn’t find it again on the trip, which would’ve been extremely sad if not for . . .

21-IMG_5364

43-IMG_6236

Ceviche! Its unbelievable, but I had never had ceviche before coming to Peru. The $20/plate price tag likely scared me off, in addition to 26 years of seafood-free living. Those were both silly decisions, as I would eat it everyday if I could (and nearly did in Peru). Various fish marinated but not cooked (trout was the best), usually  comes with some tubers, onions, & popped corn. Other countries do ceviche as well, but not like Peru.

38-IMG_6095

Apparently coca is good for many things other than tea and cocaine. Unfortunately cookies are not one of them.

37-IMG_6059

Cheese & corn on the cob combo – a satisfying combo snack.

36-IMG_6027 35-IMG_6023

Cuy, or guinea pig, is a regional specialty. It sounds gross and doesn’t look any less appealing as often cooked whole, but really doesn’t taste bad.

34-IMG_5919

Llama in burger form – for our 3rd time consuming the animal. Unfortunately this sounded & looked better than it tasted, but I can now say I’ve eaten a llama burger and be honest, rather than the lies I’ve spurted the past 31 years (unbeknownst to many, that was my first complete sentence at the age of two).

31-IMG_5758

A delightful little plate of chicken necks. I’ll prolly never write that again.

28-IMG_6090

Some sort of soup – I am not a fan of soup(es), but such sentiments have not been incorporated by Christine, who insists on eating soup at an ungodly rate of approximately once every eight days.

26-IMG_5482 25-IMG_5480

Every now and then we splurge (more then for me, more now if Christine had her way). These alpaca kabobs broke our daily food budget, but were so worth it. If you’re ever in Cuzco, check out the restaurant Uchu and you will not be disappointed (a rare uncommissioned restaurant recommendation from me)!

24-IMG_5471

Cheese ice cream –less pure cheese and more like a sweet ricotta or cottage cheese, topped with cinnamon. No less delicious, but its an Arequipa specialty, and we unfortunately did not find it on a regular basis outside the southern Peruvian city (those this was a rare find in Cuzco). Maybe it was for the best, as I’d be pushing 230 right now if we had more regular access.

23-IMG_5367

Peru has all sorts of grains, potatoes, and corns you’ve never heard of. This lady sells so many types of popped corn that I had to stop counting because it was more than I could do on one hand (my typical limit).

33-IMG_5769

Case in point – Ponche, a warm drink made of some sort of grain you and I have both never heard of.

22-IMG_5365

Chicha of a sort, made from purple corn. Also known in some circles as purple drank.

42-IMG_6185

Did I mention how happy sublimes make me?

Advertisements

The Culinary Tour Continues – Andean Edition

One thing I’ve noticed everywhere I’ve traveled, is that everyone eats food. It’s kind of crazy, but trust me it’s true. The Andean countries were no exception, as demonstrated below. Peru itself is an exception, in that its cuisine is rather exceptional, and thus deserves a separate upcoming post, fulfilling the Argentina role of the Andean nations.

Bolivia

01-IMG_4863

Anticuchos or beef hearts. Served with a portion of potatoes, they taste much better than they sound in fact. I think most cows would agree with me. Accompanied with fideos de aji (spicy noodles).

02-IMG_4868

Meat on a stick. It works in all countries (and makes for the perfect birthday meal!)

03-IMG_4881

This is where papa rellenos were introduced as a near daily item in our travel diet. Basically fried mashed potatoes stuffed with various items, I’m surprised this hasn’t taken off in America (imagine cheese & turkey bacon papa rellenos?? Apples and brie? Or for a healthy yuppie option, with kale with more kale?)

04-IMG_4882

Peach pit juice – for those who think the drinks in America just never had enough pits in them.

06-IMG_4889

Root beer cream(sicle) – heavy on the cream, really heavy on the cream.

07-IMG_4891 08-IMG_4892

Normally eating up a llama would never cross my mind, but normally llamas do not cross my mind that often. This place served not only grilled to savory perfection llama steaks, but also llama chorizos. Part of a Sunday market eating tour, we were stuffed by the time we found this place at the end of the market, but the option of a whole plate full of variously prepared llama meats for $4 was too tantalizing to pass up (with no regrets – one of best meat dishes of the trip!).

09-IMG_4935 10-IMG_4936

Deserts are king – chocolate covered strawberries and ubiquitous slices of moist birthday cake abound. The cake in particular became an internal hit, to the point where I began shaking most days around 5pm without it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.15.30 PM

The best afternoons were ones where I accomplished the Trifecta – the consumption of cake, jello, and sublime (a surprisingly delicious chocolate bar) in quick succession. I’d like to say those afternoons were rare, so I will (just know that I am lying). While the feeling of accomplishment immediately post-Trifecta was rewarding, how I felt 20 minutes afterwards is a different story . . .

11-photo 4

12-IMG_4939

Albondigas plate, or meatballs with a bunch of side stuff, including tubers and purple corn. Typical dish, also seen with chorizo.

15-IMG_4943

Juices, juices, and more juices. Of all kinds, with milk or water. Not pictured here, but I had a peanut with milk one that went over pretty well with myself.

17-IMG_5056

Salteñas – a take on your typical empanada but with juice inside and a sweeter taste. They will explode hot liquid all over you if you are unaware of their contents, as we learned the hard way (thus going to a place with a plate & utensils for this one). Pretty decent, but prefer the less sweet ones.

19-IMG_5251

Charky is Bolivian beef jerky made from llama? Served with cheese here, it is delicious but incredibly salty, which is saying something coming from me. We were unable to finish this plate, which normally may be a decent thing as well-preserved as it may be. In this case it was not.

Ecuador

46-IMG_6343-001

A fried banana filled with cheese! A snack fit for the gods but made by a human – how could it be so? I am not one to question, so I’ll stop and just order another.

48-IMG_6347

Street meat is eat(en) meat. A combo platter for $4.

49-IMG_6351

The reign of papas rellenos continue, with a heavy focus on rice on the inside. These ones even come with an ever-handy spork.

50-IMG_6352

Shrimp ceviche, or more like shrimp soup. Sounds amazing, but we all know how I feel about soup (apparently me and Malfalda a like). Good attempt by Ecuador, but will take its southern neighbor’s version over it any day of the week (including the odd leap year Tuesday).

55-IMG_7410

Cheese tortillas! Anything with cheese wins, every time.

52-photo 2

I honestly don’t remember what this was. I was hoping you could tell me.

Colombia

56-IMG_7411

Papa rellenos for life!

57-IMG_7422

Completely artificial slushy, as I tried my best in Colombia to recreate the trifecta given less frequent jello sightings, inferior cake, and non-existent sublimes. Try as Colombia might, the deserts just don’t live up, but they do serve as a forceful way to detox back to a normal and healthy level of sugar.

58-IMG_7423

What Colombia lacks in the desert department, it does make up however in the fried chicken with artificial honey department. Likely just as insalubrious, the combo of fried chicken skin and chemically induced/factory produced honey is a winner in my book of food winners (2015 edition).

60-IMG_7496

Caldo de pollo, or basically chicken soup. Aghast, Christine is eating a meal with another brown man (while I film)! Notice that is also our last food photo . . . interpret as you will.

A Culinary Tour of the Southern Cone – Part II (Argentina Awakens)

Regardless of what the Argentines can and cannot figure out, they got the food game down. Centolla, or spider crabs, a speciality from Ushuaia, alllll the way down south. This was cooked in a parmesan cheese sauce, and thus was delicious by default. 06-photo 1 We lived off of Choripans for a while in Argentina, a clever combination of chorizos and pan (bread). Submerged in chimichurri sauce and plied with other vegetable-related toppings, this is a ubiquitous and tasty street food item. 08-IMG_2955-001 And now we come to the most famous of all Argentine sandwiches, the Milanesa. In an attempt to rival the Chilean chacarero (but in between us falling a bit short), a thin strip of veal is breaded and then put on more bread. Milanesa can refer to a type of meat preparation as well – usually veal, but you can have chicken, pork, or even llama milanesas. Found all over Argentina, they are also typically as big as your face, but could use some sauce (i.e. aji from Chile as well! – ok fine, we just really want a chacarero instead). 09-IMG_2985 You can also get it not as a sandwich as well, for those more Atkins inclined (its still breaded and massive). 10-IMG_3018 A typical Argentina barbeque, filled with as many different types of meats as you can count, or an asado, is a blissful event. In this case, we had a combination of blood sausage, sweet breads, and intestines – nothing goes to waste. 12-IMG_3067 13-IMG_3068 Parillas (grill) restaurants grill up a lot of delicious things, but its hard to top the Chivto, basically a young goat. I could never be a vegetarian. 16-IMG_20150511_152327 15-IMG_3082 Pulpo, or octopus – homemade in this case with potatoes, pepper, and olive oil. The Chinese in Buenos Aires apparently have the best octopus, which may or may not be manufactured in a factory. 17-IMG_20150510_205126 Random places, such as a mechanical garage, will set up a Sunday BBQ outside, throwing tons of meat on the grill until they sell out. In this case, we came late but still managed to secure one of the last pieces of beef, and of course a chorizo – drenched in chimichurri as usual. 26-IMG_3935 Argentina bakeries are some of the best places on earth. Most of the cookies are alfajor based, or with dulce de leche in between two layers. These are also mainly dipped in chocolate, and thus are amazing. Trying to buy just one is simply impossible (something I attempted here, and come home with seven). 31-IMG_3986 Llama steak – we thought it was rare, but see it in Bolivia now all the time! Doesn’t make this first fancy foray into the world of llama consumption any less delicious. 33-IMG_4023 If you ever go to Argentina (or even South Carolina randomly), go to Freddo’s Ice Cream. Get any dulce de leche flavor, and then you can die a happy person. They even had an ice cream alfajor sandwich (something Christine simultaneously invented), but I’d stick to the ice cream itself. 14-dg 27-IMG_3973 In Argentina, but especially Uruguay, people carry unwieldy thermoses of hot water with them all over the place to make mate, a bitter looseleaf tea that you drink out of a open cup, often a gourd, via a metal straw with a filter on the bottom. Often a social activity shared amongst a group, mate is also highly caffeinated, and may help explains Uruguay’s recent decision to legalize certain substances as a counterbalancing effect. 11-IMG_3053 How could we go this long without talking about licuados? Take any fruit, add milk or water with a little sugar, and you’re good to go. Strawberry tends to be the most manly choice. 30-IMG_3983 Submarino, or basically make-your-own hot chocolate. You are provided hot milk and some chocolate on a stick, the rest is up to you (don’t worry, it’s hard to mess up – even if you look like a cartoon). 07-IMG_2794 Ok time to go eat!

A Culinary Tour of the Southern Cone – Part I

Everybody loves food, and even better to write about food is to show it! Now in Bolivia, we have completed our tour of the southern cone (which to me means Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay – but we visited Paraguay as well, so I’m just going to include it here). Given the length of time we spent and the variety of delicious foods, Argentina will just have to occupy its own forthcoming post (which will do little to diminish their ever-present vanity for all things Argentine).

Thus, a sampling of what we ate in Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay:

Chile

Pino empanadas – beef, a hard boiled egg, and an olive. A Chilean classic!

01-IMG_2067

The most famous of the famous Chilean sandwiches, the Chacarero. Along with half a jar of mayonnaise, the base is thinly sliced beef, fresh green beans, and spicy peppers. Best paired with aji, a delicious and salty Chilean hot sauce. It usually as big as your head, unless you have a really big head. We shared this one at supposedly the best chacarero place in Chile, Fuente Alemana

02-IMG_2086-001Another famous Chilean speciality – the completo! A hot dog, or in this case two hot dogs, smothered in yet more mayonnaise, cheese, vegetables, and various other toppings. This was purchased from the also famous Sibaritico in Vina del Mar, where Anthony Bourdain even got one once. They also make their own mayonnaise there, so Hellman’s lost some business on that one.

04-IMG_2285

Cuddly guanacos, a llama cousin, make for great photo opportunities, but also fit nicely on a plate.

34-photo 1

Curanto is a seafood medley encompassing clams, mussels and multiple varieties of fish, in addition to various meats and potatoes, all cooked in a hole in the ground. The tinfoil did not taste as good as the rest.

35-photo 2

Churros! Need I say more?

05-IMG_2451

Uruguay

Confusingly, the Southern Cone at one point ran out of food words, and starting using the same phrases in different countries to describe completely different things. Thus while Lomito refers to pork in Chile, in Uruguay it serves as the national beef-based sandwich, competing with the Argentine Milanesa and Chilean Chacarerro alike. Simple but with tender meat, Uruguay in our opinion takes home a well-deserved second place in the regional sandwich game (but don’t tell the third place Argentines that!)

18-IMG_3165

While in Chile a large hot dog with everything you could imagine on it is a completo, in Uruguay it’s a pancho – both ertain the ratio of a kilo of mayonnaise per hot dog.

20-IMG_3203

Uruguay also does up its Sunday bbqs – in this case we got a pizza chicken, or literally cheese and sauce atop a grilled piece of chicken.
21-IMG_3244

Paraguay

Poor Paraguay is often overlooked, but it does has some specialties of its own commonly found on the street, such as a food drink salad and chipa guasu (i.e. Paraguay cornbread).

23-IMG_3612

If you ever find yourself lost in the chaos of the markets of Ciudad del Este, take a deep breath, walk west, and don’t stop until you hit a Quiero Fruta. While juices are found everywhere in all four countries, this stand has it going on.

22-IMG_3597

Meat is just often so much better when grilled on the side of the street. Throw in some yuca too for girth.

24-IMG_3688

And of course, don’t forget that you can get an entire chicken meal for a few bucks!

25-IMG_3919 (1)