I have mentioned Anthony Bourdain´s show, No Reservations, several times on here, mainly because he is my travel and culinary hero. In an early episode of the show, Bourdain travels to Peru, and as always gets to really sample what locals eat, drink and where they hang out. When I found out that I was going to be traveling to Peru, I found that episode online to see what he ate and drank. Little did I know that it was going to be a little guinea pig and alpaca.
I had been talking about trying guinea pig, or Cuy, for months now. Part of me really wanted to try it to see a) what it tasted like, b) how it was served and c) for the experience. I got the chance yesterday afternoon to try Cuy — for the first, and last time. I do have a great picture of the dish, however, using a hotel business center computer has its limitations…the picture will be up later on a larger gallery that I will post here.
I was told that the cuy was often consumed in the highlands like that of Cusco. I was expecting to have to wait until today (in the sacred valley, 60 kilometers from Cusco) to be able to try it. Turns out that in downtown Lima, there is a large pre-Incan pyramid which has a large, elegent and fancy restaurant attached. It was highly recommended in nearly every guide book and website on Lima. The ruins and restaurant are called Huaca Pucllana. Not only did I get to try and fried and bbq´d cuy, I also had the best civiche I have ever had in my life. The fish was so fresh and the taste was magnificent. As for the Cuy, it tasted like chicken. I really wish I didn´t have to say that, but I guess I should have known.
(edited to add picture)
As for the rest of my food adventure, or at least for trying new things, the hotel restaurant boasted 5 or 6 dishes with the Paiche fish. Turns out that it is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and is mostly found in the Amazon River. It also contained omega 3 and 6, the only fish in the world to do so. The fish was one of the tastiest I have had, and even the ´small´ piece was huge. It was quite the day to experience new Peruvian culinary dishes.
Tomorrow, I will be trying alpaca and so I will be sure to take a picture and document that as well. Tomorrow´s line up is the Pisac Market, among other things.
Oh, I almost forgot…in Peru, specifically in Cusco and other highland area, it is quite common to drink Coca tea and chew on the leaves. And yes, Mr. Bourdain did that too. The leaves tasted horrible, but if you just push them to the side of your cheek, it helps with the altitude. The hotel lobby has coca tea on tap all day.
Only 2 more days until Machu Picchu!
Oh, and here is a little Bourdain for you: