While on the train to Machu Picchu last Thursday, we were offered the ability to purchase various books on Peru, Machu Picchu, as well as a Peruvian cookbook. My fiancee’s parents were kind enough to purchase the book for me with one condition: I would cook something for them from the book (and I think its safe to assume, not the guinea pig). For those of you who have not been to Peru or eaten at a Peruvian restaurant, their food can be described as cross-continental. Due to the various ethnic groups that have come to Peru — Chinese, Spanish, African, Japanese, Italian — the food has taken on a very unique take on those cuisines. You can find numerous chinese restaurants called Chifa (meaning “eat rice”), Italian food, great sushi, ceviche (or pronounced Cebiche in Peru), among other things.
Each part of Peru has very distinct dishes and styles. In Lima, on the coast, you are likely to find the best ceviche and other dishes related to fish. However, that doesn’t mean you wont find great Lomo Saltado – which is basically stir friend beef, with vegetables and french fried potatoes and rice. That dish alone solidifies the country’s cuisine as cross cultural — french, Chinese and Peruvian elements combine for a great dish.
In the highlands, you will find more corn and potatoes than in some other areas, as well as guinea pig (Cuy) and Alpaca. Both of which I tried, however, I would only order alpaca again. It really just tastes like lamb.
The cook book (pictures to follow later), contains a variety of meals including lomo saltado, soups, stews, vegetables, ceviches and even Cuy (though I can’t see myself walking into a pet store asking for 4 guinea pigs for that evenings dinner).
I plan to go through the cookbook and make some of the traditional dishes I tasted, and some that I didn’t. In the spirit of this blog, I will attempt to make portions of the dishes vegetarian when possible. Pictures and blog entries will soon follow