Lima, Peru. Not the first place that springs to mind as a foodie destination. I, like many others, intended to fly to this coastal city to travel to Machu Picchu. Little did I know that my arrival in Lima coincided with South America’s largest food festival, Mistura. Additionally just days before I landed, Latin America Top 50 Restaurant Awards were held in this city, with 7 of the top 20 places going to restaurants within walking distance of my hostel. I disembarked the plane determined to explore Lima’s hot bed of culinary activity. Here are a few highlights.
What better way to begin my time in Lima than a visit to a local cevicheria, El Veridico De Fidelan, to learn all about the national dish, ceviche. I met Ericka, from Lima food tour company Delectable Peru, who had kindly agreed to show a Foodish Boy about town (and even get me in the kitchen). Ceviche originated when Incas preserved fish with salt and when the Spanish invaded in 1532 they introduced citrus and onion to the fish. Making ceviche is simple. Mix fresh lime & salt to a paste of garlic, ginger, celery and ‘aji’ chili. Toss in raw white fish and/or seafood. The citrus “cooks” the fish and hey presto, ceviche done. Serve on a bed of finely sliced red onions, and garnish, as is tradition in Lima, with sweet potato and corn (Peruvians proudly boast the largest corn in the world). Click the circles for large pics…
Peruvians only eat ceviche at lunch, and expect to wash it down with a few Pisco Sours – the national drink that combines pisco, lime, sugar and egg white, shaken over ice with a dash of bitters (Ericka insisted I mixed my own)! Just watch out, the ceviche juice, known as leche de tigre (tiger milk), is rumoured to stimulate your appetite for a little ‘afternoon delight’. We finished off our Peruvian experience with a trip to the sea to meet the fishermen of Peru.
Before i could recover from lunch, I was in a taxi with my Couchsurfing buddy Jazmin for the Mistura food festival. I only had a couple of days off before my next food job and needed to make the most of it. Mistura exhibits the incredibly diverse range of cuisines and produce. The potato alone has over 3,000 varieties. Jazmin pointed out a bag of knobby potatoes. In Quechua a woman must peel this with one visit of the knife to prove she is worthy of becoming a wife. Imagine meeting the woman of your dreams, only to be denied a future together by a bleeding rare breed of potato.
From Andean to Amazonian, Mistura offered food from coastlines, highlands, and jungles. Peruvian cuisine even has unique fusions with Japanese and Chinese cuisine known as Nikkei and Chifa respectively. Click the gallery to view a few of the tasty treats…(Ok, yes I know. I ate 7 dishes!)
Astrid y Gaston
“You can’t use yolo to justify every extravagance on your travels”, the GF back home warned me. But hell, I couldn’t come to Lima and not eat in Latin America’s best restaurant. Right? For God’s sake, Astrid y Gaston is so damn good the world’s best chefs even throw a party in honour of their pulpo al cilindro (octopus with coriander).