Category Archives: Food and Drink

You Never Know – Journey In Peru

You never know what’s outside your door until you open it and venture out into the light of day. This is especially so when you are traveling in a distant land, with everything so new and exciting.

A child-like state automatically takes me over when I am in the surrounds of the beauty of a culture so rich as that of Peru. The only country in the world that would find strong competition in my eyes would be India, which I dearly love.

As a solo female traveler, I preferred to travel to the sanctity of the Sacred Valley of Cuzco’s Ollantaytambo. Perhaps I will one day graduate to solo travel in India, the first country that made me fall in love with every part of it.

Afuera La Porta

Afuera La Porta

On one particular morning in my new lodgings in Ollantaytambo Peru, I opened the door to find two labourers resting with planks of wood. They made such a striking pose as they stood there smiling. I ran to get my camera and asked them if I could photograph them. They nodded their approval, smiling all the while.

 

El Horno - Ollantaytambo Peru

El Horno – Ollantaytambo Peru

Another day I came upon a man at the adjoining bar, busily stomping bare-footed in a pile of wet mud. He did not mind me stopping to watch. ‘What are you making?’ I asked him in Spanish. ‘El horno!’ was his reply. Pizza’s are popular in Peru, more especially with tourists, and where there is business to be made our Peruvian friends are not slow to act. Clay oven’s were particularly popular. And this man was making an addition to the services offered by his funky ‘Quechua Bar’ (the one that plays the Bob Marley Music and the Spanish version of ‘The Streets Have No Name’).

 

 

 
My neighbour grabbed a bucket and began to sprinkle clumps of black strands into the mix of mud. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘Hair!’, his reply. ‘Human hair?’ said I. ‘Si,’ he affirmed, ‘it helps the mud to stick together.’ I enquired if there was any other spiritual belief attached to the practice of using the hair, but no , it was purely a practical solution.

Making an Oven with Human Hair - Peru

Making an Oven with Human Hair – Peru

Making an Oven - Peru

Making an Oven – Peru

Making an Oven - Ollantaytambo Peru

Making an Oven – Ollantaytambo Peru

I delighted in such happenings for my collection of childlike wonders. The fact that I was making these discoveries through learning a new language added to the experience. To learn like a child is such a lesson in life. It is a humbling experience and can be vulnerable too. Fortunately, I was surrounded by kindly souls for the most of my visit. My adventures into the lessons of adulthood however, were to be treacherous in comparison.

Making a Pizza Oven - Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo

Making a Pizza Oven – Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo

Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo Peru

Quechua Bar Ollantaytambo Peru

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog).

Torn Between Two Lovers

Torn! Yes Torn. Why? Because I said in my last post Eat Love Peru that I would contribute further articles with regard to the Peruvian passion for food. As soon as i had that thought of writing the article I reverted back to ‘DRINK’. Sorry, am giving you totally the wrong idea. Oops! I said ‘totally’……….(O: and I never say ‘totally’….like the way some folk ‘totally’ say ‘totally…..ahhhhh!!

Yikes! And there again I have left you probably thinking…’what she doing? Has she hit the bottle?’ Nope! Not at all the way it appears in writing. You see in Peru, those who are passionate about their food (and they are many), often use what they call ‘the secrets of good cooking.’ There are many secrets as I discovered in my conversations with a number of friends, some who were also qualified chefs.

As I was in the deep end for my nine weeks of living in Peru, with regard to learning Spanish, I invited myself to watch carefully as one of my chef friends cooked our meal for the evening. Surely I would discover some of the secrets if I paid attention well.

I shall keep you in suspense to know the name of the dish being prepared on that first evening, but I am pretty sure I did in fact discover one of the secrets. Pisco! Si, yes, Pisco. Its a drink, an alcoholic one and it would be difficult to make your way throughout Peru without being offered a drop or two of this particular spirit, of which its country folk claim with pride.

To be more precise, Pisco is made from grapes and is certainly a product of the famous winery of Ica along the Peruvian coast. Pisco is a colourless spirit and high in alcoholic content (40%), so gently does it with this stuff. In my taste buds it is similar to a brandy or a palinka (made in eastern parts of Europe).

But not to worry, in Peru there are many recipes for the drinking of Pisco. Pisco Sour is the most famous of its cocktails and is hailed as the traditional welcome and celebratory drink in every home and hotel. Chilcano is a perhaps a more relaxed and chilled out cocktail option. There are numerous possibilities, as i discovered during my 9 weeks in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

You can make hot drinks to warm your bones in the cool of an Andean evening, after the sun disappears behind the rocky peaks. I never thought of asking if it is good for arthritis? Hold your horses! Better to drink the stuff (following the recipe) before you try rubbing it in your knees, as  was a custom with Poitín (an alcoholic drink of Irish Olden Days before there were so many laws).

Last but not least, I discovered that Pisco is one of the secrets, ‘the secrets of good cooking.’ I saw it with my own two eyes as the measure was added to the pan. And the dish was delicious I have to say. It was double YUM.

Surely you will now understand my torn agony as I strove to tell you about food. Its great when everything falls into neat categories. That’s life. No neat categories. So lets get on with the show. Next article is definitely about FOOD. I promise it is not the last you will hear of Pisco however and yes I will also include the recipe for Pisco Sour. Salud!

Catch up on Previous Posts Eat, Love, Peru

Eat Love Peru!

Peru boasts a wealth of gastronomical dishes and you don’t have to visit a fancy restaurant to find that out. Cooking and eating might as well be included among the sacred rituals continued from Inca times for these two occupations were embraced with passion and reverence in all quarters of my hang-outs in the Sacred Valley region of Cuzco.

As a tourist in Peru it is not so likely that you will discover the many eating houses that the Peruvians themselves frequent unless you decide to be a stalker for a day to see where they are going at those times when hunger strikes. If you do take this adventure you will be presented with a choice of set menus of the day, serving 2 or maybe 3 courses with a drink (chicha morado or fresh juices) and all for at least a third the cost of what is charged in tourist restaurants.

There is also a wealth of stalls and small eateries serving what is sometimes labelled ‘street-food’ perhaps skewered pieces of vegetable and meat which smells delicious and tastes to match. In the eateries one of my favourite dishes was the Papas Rellana’s. A ball of mashed potato’s stuffed with some chopped up vegetable and minced meat and a boiled egg in the centre, fried in oil and served hot.

Why not give it a go when you are next in Cuzco before or after your trip to Machu Picchu.

If you have a passion for food and would like to learn more about Peruvian dishes and drinks, FOLLOW my blog as I will be posting some recipes soon!!