Epicurean Lima

On our second day in Peru, rather than going into Lima to visit churches and museums or to gain some knowledge of the archaeology of the area, we decided to learn how to cook Peruvian style and signed up for Market to Table: A Taste of Peruvian Cuisine.

Peru mixes native culinary traditions with the cuisines of Europe, Arabia, China, Africa and Japan.  The result is a collection of unique flavors that make Peruvian cuisine exciting and varied.  People of all races call themselves Peruvians and impact the local culture and cuisine with their own unique accents and flavors. The land has taught Peruvians generosity by placing endless delicacies within easy reach.

Our first stop on the tour was to the Minka Market, which Mary Jane decided was a super-duper, giant Costco grocery store.  This huge establishment, housed in multiple buildings, is located in Callao not far from the ship. We visited the fish terminal early in the morning to see fish and seafood, including octopus, scallops, sea bass, kingfish and marlin fresh from the briny waters. People can buy a whole fish and have it filleted or cut up finely for ceviche or whatever dish they are planning to make, or they can buy a portion of a large fish, such as a marlin or tuna, by the pound.  The variety of fresh fish and shellfish was amazing. Nothing goes to waste in Peru from the fish or meat market.  They eat things that we don’t eat back home and use bones and parts of the fish and animals for all sorts of things.
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Over 3,000 varieties of potatoes are raised in this country in addition to many varieties of corn with which we were not familiar at all. We saw black corn that looked like our U.S. field corn and white corn that had huge round kernels. The corn kernels were the size of a cherry, tasted like corn but were slightly sweet – but not as sweet as Michigan sweet corn.

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They had on display numerous varieties of garlic and onions, two of the staple items that seem to be in every Peruvian meal.  We saw cauliflowers that were soccer ball sized.  And we never knew there were so many different types of peppers and limes.

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At the meat market you can buy just about everything – from chicken feet to pigs tails to cow stomachs and chicken innards.  Unbelievable.  They do not let anything go to waste.

This is Tripe (cow's stomach)

This is Tripe (cow’s stomach)

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They eat all parts of the chicken including the feet.

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The innards of the chicken that are included in their purchase.

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Beautiful quail eggs

Beautiful quail eggs

The displays were outstanding throughout all of the buildings. Several of us commented on how clean everything appeared. Only a small amount of ready-to-eat items were offered for sale.

Our next stop was the Senorio de Sulco, an elegant restaurant that takes a thoughtful approach to traditional Peruvian cooking, that is located in Miraflores, an upscale part of greater Lima.

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Here the Head Chef gave us a cooking demonstration in the restaurant’s wine bar area.  He prepared each of the items we were going to eat at lunch:  Ceviche, Causa Limena, and Lomo Saltafo.  After he prepared a dish, we each got a taste, so by the time he had completed the lesson; we all had started to fill our tummies.

Then we went upstairs to the main dining room where our table for 17 was arranged.  We were served a welcome drink, a Pisco Sour.  Pisco is about 40-50% alcohol so it packs a punch.  Mary Jane managed about 3 sips but Barbara drank the entire glass.  They also gave us another Peruvian drink, this one is nonalcoholic and pomegranate in color, but made from the skins and pulp of a number of native fruits and heavily laced with cinnamon.  It was delicious. These two drinks were followed by the four-course luncheon that included the dishes we had been instructed on making.

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Our bus then took us to the Queirolo Tavern, a traditional old tavern, for a Peruvian style ham sandwich snack.  Needless to say, Barbara and Mary Jane skipped the ham sandwich and just had water, enjoying our historical surroundings.

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One Response to “Epicurean Lima”

  1. Love the pictures and the narrative….the photos of the corn and garlic and the one of the chef with the big hat are among my favorites….Although there is something to be said about the tripe. Yuk. That market is a riot of colors.

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