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Peru Food Roundup

I took a rather kick-ass vacation to Peru awhile back. They have wonderful food. I absolutely loved pretty much everything I ate. So here are some very few highlights. I guess you could say these are a version of corn nuts. Except these corn kernels are ginormous. They’re a salty and crunchy snack.
The ceviche is pretty much the best around. I should think so, since Peru invented it. We were taught by a Peruvian to only get ceviche for lunch, only when you’re in a coastal town, and only at a cevicheria. If not, you risk the the seafood not being its absolute freshest. We had absolutely no issues with that here. Here’s the giant corn again, which is a very common accompaniment. I quickly learned to love the giant corn.
The rice with seafood. Holy crap this was amazing. If I could learn to make one thing that I ate in my 2 weeks in Peru, it would be this.
Not only is the corn big, they also have purple corn.
This purple corn is used to make chicha morada. It looks like red wine, but it’s a completely non-alcoholic drink made from boiling purple corn and adding some spices. It’s an unfamiliar taste, but something we all learned to love. I’m going to attempt to make this some day, as soon as I get my hands on some giant purple corn!
They love their meats, and you’ll find plenty of it at anticucheras. Beef and chicken are popular, but you need to try the beef hearts. Even I liked it. We also tried alpaca steak. It’s delicious, but you need to eat it only when it’s rare. It’s exotic but delicious. Speaking of exotic, no one tried the cuy (guinea pig). It seemed too bony!
We couldn’t get enough picarones – pumpkin and sweet potato donuts served with a sweet and sticky syrup. You have to eat them fresh! They are crispity on the outside and doughy and amazing. These beat any kind of american donuts.
Fresh fruit is everywhere, so you can pretty much get any kind of freshly squeezed juice you can think of. Fresh limeades and lemonades are particularly refreshing.
You can also pretty much get any kind of smoothie that you want. You’ll find an amazing array of fruits. Some stuff will be completely foreign to you.
Sometimes, you have to take risks and buy soup from a little old lady on the side of the street. Sure, you’re not quite sure if your stomach will agree, but it has to be done. Even if you’re just about to start a 4-day inca trail hike where there’s no indoor plumbing. Adventure is fun.
And when you’re hanging out in Lima’s famous JFK park (famous because there are hundreds of adorable cats there), you’ll try a random sweet treat from one of the mystery carts. You have no idea what this is, but it’s crunchy and covered with a sweet and orangey syrup. It’s all sticky and gooey but you love it. We ate a lot of homemade foods while we were on the Inca Trail and on our rafting trip. Everything was made with love and absolutely delicious. Lomo saltado was probably a particular standout. It’s like a peruvian stir fry. In general, we were all fans of Peruvian cuisine. I think it would appeal to just about anyone. In fact, I wish there was a genuine Peruvian restaurant near me. I would go all the time. 

Empire Of The Incas Restaurant

Who knew that I would end up at a peruvian restaurant in a random town in connecticut? Certainly not me. Empire of the Incas Restaurant is in the teeniest least attractive strip mall ever. When I arrived, there were a few people at the bar, but I was the only person in the dining room. Awkward.
I didn’t know toasted bread and butter was peruvian. Well, these peruvians made some damn tasty toast!
I asked the server for some recommendations and he told me that this papas (potato) dish would be excellent. Sorry, I forget the actual name of it. Man, was this thing amazing. It was like football shaped mashed potato that they fried on the outside and then filled on the inside with delicious meat, funny colored hard-boiled egg, and supposedly olives. I did not taste any olives. It was awesome, even though the inside was a little bit cold, but perhaps it was supposed to be that way. And they served an amazing green hot sauce, probably made with habanero. There was also an onion salad. I figure if you slice something up, put a little lime on it, and chop some cilantro onto it, it becomes a salad?
So I ended up with a seafood rice dish for my entree, which the server also recommended. It may be called arroz con mariscos, if I was to take an educated guess. Man, this thing is huge. I barely made a dent in it. It’s basically like a paella with mixed seafood and peas. It was pretty good and had tons of seafood in it. I liked it but it wasn’t mindblowing or anything. The appetizer is really what got me. I could eat that all day long. The server was very nice but not particularly attentive. I guess since I was the only diner, he just decided to leave me alone.

Empire of The Incas on Urbanspoon

boozings – Chicha Morada At Chifa

Welcome back to another installment of boozings, where we try all of Philly’s Top 15 Drinks! Next up we go to Chifa, for the Chicha Morada. It is a Peruvian drink (Chifa is Peruvian/Chinese), but it’s Chifa’s own modern interpretation of it. Instead of the traditional chicha morada which is made by a human chewing on purple maize, this much friendlier version is made with spiced rum, purple corn, and pineapple, and served in a wine glass over ice and garnished with lime.

Wow, this is a good drink.  And can I also say wow, this is a beautiful restaurant? Because of the spiced rum, it definitely has that spicy and warm fall/winter taste to it, but sweeter. It’s kind of like sangria but not, because it’s definitely not made with wine. But it is reminiscent because of the hunks of fruit. It was just plain delicious, warm and sweet and slightly spiced. I drank it down way too fast. And it’s not super strong. It is strong, but not overly so. It goes down super easy.

We also tried the mula cuzco, which is vodka, ginger liqueur, Cusqueña Lager, and lime, served in one of these long skinny glasses. We got this because the bartender said it was incredibly refreshing. And on this sunday after a few feet of snow, we wanted some refreshment. This was also quite amazing. It’s very light and refreshing, indeed, and the hint of beer is quite nice.

Ok, 11 down, only 4 more to go!
Chifa on Urbanspoon

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