Sunday, 6 February 2011

Food Glorious Food!

I thought that it was time to address the important stuff now - what have we been eating? Well, in my case, not a lot over the last week, but it looks like the appetite is returning, following the virus. Food here is really good. Potatoes are a big deal - they originated from Peru and the Peruvians have found many, many ways to cook them. There is also a lot of meat to be eaten; I think the chicken is amazing. Neil had alpaca the other week in a restaurant, which was tasty and I had trout. We haven't tried ceviche yet (raw fish) which is a specialty in Peru, nor have we tried el cuy (guinea pig.) The bread is good as well. Just around the corner from us, there is a tiny bakery where you can go and buy 6 traditional Andean flatbreads for 1 soles (around 25p)- hot out of the oven. We go sometimes, but the local supermarket does a great selection too. The fruit and veg is amazing, and there is lots of it. Daniel loves the mango and Sophia loves the water melon - here she is trying to get the last bit of melon juice out of a very big bowl.

Dairy products are huge here, despite the lack of fresh pasteurised milk. In the supermarket, there is an aisle dedicated to milk of all kinds, evaporated, condensed, soya, lactose free... yogurt is also popular although most people drink it. There was also a moment of confusion in my language school the other day, when I said that I ate porridge oats for breakfast, and he corrected me, saying that I drank it! We are pleased to have discovered porridge as it is cheap and healthy; we can buy most cereals but at a premium - and I haven't seen Crunchy Nut Cornflakes yet! We also visit a great dairy shop that sells cheese to rival cheddar(?) and fresh pasteurised milk, as well as lovely Andean honey and yummy yogurt.

Eating out is cheap and yummy, although you pay a bit more in the centre of Cusco. There are a few places that are good for gringos to eat as well! There is also a McDonalds, although I hope never to darken its door. Cusco has a huge tourist trade, so its eateries reflect this, although not so much in the suburbs.

Considering that Peru exports a lot of cocoa beans, and coffee, so far it is hard to get hold of decent stuff. Tea is much more popular, including mate de coca (made from cocaine leaf and good for adjusting to the altitude!) It is only a month in and I am already pining for Cadburys - and Divine choc. There is 1 shop that sells Cadburys but a large bar costs 30 soles (around £7). To put it in perspective, we can get a 3 course meal for 16 soles in a very nice cafe. Cadburys will have to be a rare treat!

There seems to be a lot of sugar around and things seem very sweet! Here's a pic of Sophia and Daniel drinking Peruvian hot chocolate, made by melting a block of choc in hot water, and adding evaporated milk and sugar.

There are lots of cakes as well. This afternoon, we baked alfajores, which are cookies with a layer of manjar blanco, a thick caramel, which is popular throughout South America. We took them to church, where one lady said that they were delicious! I was also able to say that 'we cooked them and Daniel helped' - progress!

Like most of us, Sophia likes nothing more than a nap after a good meal. This meal, however, was also proof that we still have a way to go. We cooked a simple pasta for the kids. I had picked up a block of cheese in a hurry and Neil grated it on top, only for Daniel to declare that it was very buttery. Yes, it was in fact butter. And Dan kept complaining that it was spicy and Neil thought he was being fussy until he tried it. He must have used a spicy sauce! No complaints from Sophia though, who ate the lot. And like most of us after a good meal, she likes to sleep it off!

We are also looking forward to trying the 2 tins of beans that we bought. You can't buy baked beans, but we thought these looked similar. They are called 'frijol con tocino.' In the dictionary, tocino means either pork fat or bacon. Let's hope it is the latter... our food fun continues and we don't miss English food TOO much, as long as I don't think about giant buttons or Pizza Express too much!

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