Vancouver is, perhaps the most beautiful city in all of Canada. We were fortunate enough to spend a week there for my husband’s work recently, and I plan to highlight some of my favourite experiences there in the next couple of posts. Armchair travellers…
Sometimes it’s really good to be a tourist in your own backyard… a traveller in your own city. I was reminded of the importance of this by two things that happened this week.
Peruvian food, and especially the food of Cusco’s streets, hotels, homes and restaurants, is fantastic fare. The San Pedro Market, host to many of its fine ingredients, is the perfect place to explore. A window to the culture, it gives a unique perspective on Peru, its people and its food.
Let’s take a closer look at the Mercato San Pedro, now that we have a deeper understanding of the geographic, historical and ethnic influences on Peruvian cuisine that have made it into the wonderful fusion sensation that it is today…
What do the US Civil War of the 1860s, cotton picking, Chinese migrants, a Japanese insistence on six minutes, super-aggressive Californian trout and a terrible rain storm have to do with Peru, let alone the development of Peruvian cuisine?
We’ve seen a bit of the hustle and bustle of the San Pedro Farmers’ Market in Cusco’s historic old town, with its incredible stalls and the wide variety of produce and products that is sells there in its quite organized chaos. And we’ve explored the historical and geographical influences that have helped make the Peruvian food of Cusco so incredibly delectable. Now let’s delve a little deeper…
Chef José Luis proudly proclaimed, in a candle lit corner of his Uchu Restaurant, over an incredibly beautiful dish of ceviche, “In Peru we do not eat. We taste.” Sitting at a small table, tucked away in a corner, getting to know Chef José, I looked down into the bowl of ceviche that had just been placed before me. It was stunning. What a way to begin our evening!
But it was not just that the bowl of ceviche was visually beautiful; its tastes were remarkable as well. Each bite was different. The flavours danced and played in our mouths while the ideas that he shared with us about the development of Peruvian fusion cuisine swirled in our minds. It was a tremendous way to start an evening, an evening of exploring Peruvian cuisine during a culinary tour of the city’s restaurants and street food stands.
I think that the biggest surprise in all of our travels in Peru was just how incredibly good the food was in Cusco.
Those of you who know me well, know that I love cooking and I love experimenting with my food. I knew very little about Peruvian food, other than the fact that quinoa and potatoes were used ubiquitously, and so I assumed that the food would be quite plain. Was I ever wrong! I was simply floored by the tastes & textures, the variety and the creativity that was inherent in the dishes we tried while in Cusco. THIS was no Costa Rican rice & beans food culture!
Excerpt: “So how does that morning cup ‘o Joe, so prized in Europe and North America, go from being a red berry that is a parrot’s favourite treat, to the dark brown sludge that forms the basis of a heavenly morning treat??? Follow along and I’ll explain…”
Excerpt: “Our storyteller (our culinary experiences guide, the awesome Chef José Luis, pictured with Bill above) summed it up this way, with a devilish glint in his eye: this is ‘a reminder that women save men at the worst moments of their lives!'”
Excerpt: “We did pass a beautiful scene on the way up, but I didn’t take a photo to respect the family’s privacy. A mother was sitting on a low stone wall outside her variety store (selling pop, water, chips, etc.) with her young (maybe 4 year old?) daughter, reading to her and getting her daughter to identify images in the book. It was clearly an alphabet book and the scene was just delightful as the two went back and forth, with the mom softly encouraging her daughter, with shy glances up at us, and the daughter learning her way through the experience. It was a beautiful moment.”