It's that time of year when Peruvians and foreigners alike seem to go crazy paying a higher price for food that can normally be found at a cheaper price. Yes, we are talking about Mistura, the mega-event that over the past few years [es] has been bringing together growers, cooks, business owners, chefs and of course, droves of the public eager to consume popular Peruvian food.
There is no doubt that these types of events are a great opportunity to experience new things. However, good food can be found in Lima at any time of the year, even in the most unexpected places.
Breakfast on the go
Like any other modern city, Lima is up early and locals do not always have the time to eat before leaving the house. This is a problem for some, but for others, it's a business opportunity. In this video uploaded by YouTube user djn4nd1ll0 [es], University of Lima students investigate this dynamic:
Things like leche con quinua (milk with quinoa), leche con maca (milk with maca), pan con tamal [es] (bread with tamales), with sweet potato, avocado, chicken or chicharrón (pork rind), are typical meals for breakfast on the go but are not exclusive to morning hours. For example, although the pork rind sandwich is a classic breakfast, it's also found at night, as YouTube user lightpackertravel [es] recorded in this video while walking through the Miraflores district in Lima.
We continue with yucas fritas (fried cassava), a type of food usually eaten on the go in the streets of Lima. The dish is not actually prepared with pieces of yuca but rather with yuca flour. The following video from YouTube user Justrendering [es] allows viewers to appreciate the preparation of this dish. The user adds: “The video is taken at a food stand at the Magdalena Market in Lima, Peru. “
This recipe can be found in a note [es] by Facebook user Antiguas Recetas Peruanas (Old-Fashioned Peruvian Recipes). The blog Dulces de Colores (Colorful Sweets) offers us an alternative recipe, “Yucas fritas de carretilla” [es] (Fried cassava from the cart), and also comments:
Quizás conozcan esta receta con otro nombre pero en Peru quien no a comido en la salida del colegio unas yuquitas fritas calientitas , o cerca al mercado o plazuela [...] ahora la prepare y encanto en casa, a comerlas calientes y espolvoreadas con azúcar blanca ummmmmmm rico de verdad el nombre de carretilla o carretillero es porque en Perú así las venden , en un esquina un señor con su carretilla vendiendo estas yuquitas.
You may know this recipe by another name but who in Peru hasn't eaten some hot yuquitas fritas while leaving school or at the market or town square? [...] Now I made them and they were a hit at home; eating hot yucas sprinkled with white sugar ummmmmmm delicious really and the name “de carretilla” or “carretillero” because that's how they sell them in Peru, a man on the corner with his cart selling yuquitas.
Picarones are another delicacy you can find in the streets of Lima or almost any city in Peru. Picarones are a type of dessert usually eaten during the afternoon or at night. The YouTube user Oportal [es] filmed the following video and added: “We stopped for a moment to enjoy these delicious Peruvian picarones, where a lady described how to prepare them.”
The blog Mistura de Perú shares a recipe for picarones and also explains [es]:
Aunque por el nombre pueda parecer que se trata de una especialidad picante, los picarones son unos dulces en forma de anillo muy conocidos y apreciados en Perú y Chile.
Although its name may make it seem like we're dealing with a spicy speciality, picarones are ring-shaped sweets that are well-known and appreciated in Peru and Chile.
If we are talking about emblematic Peruvian dishes, we cannot forget anticuchos, something that everyone who visits Lima should try. They can be found in both high-end and more popular restaurants, and of course, at food carts on the corner of many neighborhoods. Below is a video from Enlace Nacional [es] (National Link) about doña Pascuala's anticuchos:
The famous Tía Grimanesa [es] is famous when it comes to anticuchos. In the following video from YouTube user orquestaericarteta [es], we see the interaction between a Peruvian living in New York during a visit to Tía Grima:
The famed reputation of these anticuchos is not in vain, despite what one may think at first impression. It is a well-known secret that the best anticuchos are those directly from the cart. This may be due to how quickly the anticucho goes from the grill to the client's mouth or the effort put into the seasoning and preparation of the dish. What's clear is that if someone wants to try the best anticuchos in Lima, they will find them in the street, not in a restaurant.
Peruchito, writing under the same name, gives us an anticucho recipe and also adds [es]:
Para un peruchito no es extraño hablar de anticuchos. Nos referimos a ese anticucho de corazón de res y su delicioso sabor producto de su preparación al carbón vegetal. Ya sabemos que en nuestra jerga criolla anticucho también se le dice al más veterano del barrio o quizá a alguna “arruga” de antaño que se tenga que resolver, pero esta vez, hablemos de ese delicioso manjar peruano. El que encontramos, por ejemplo, al llegar a la esquina de la tía Grimanesa Vargas y se sirve bien preparado con su aroma a choclos recién sancochados y papa con ají que hace la delicia de todo buen peruano.
For a peruchito, it's not strange to talk about anticuchos. We're referring to that skewered heart of beef and its delicious flavor thanks to its preparation with charcoal. We already know that in our Peruvian slang anticucho is used to refer to the veteran of the neighborhood or perhaps to some “wrinkle” of yesteryear that must be resolved, but this time let's talk about the flavorful Peruvian delicacy. What we find, for example, upon arriving at Tía Grimanesa Vargas’ corner, well-prepared and served with the aroma of recently roasted corn on the cob and potatoes with chili is what makes the delight of all good things Peruvian.
As one can see through the story of these two anticucheras (cooks that make anticuchos), the preparation of food has not only been a way to make a living, but also a vehicle for economic and social progress and even a means to be recognized within the community.
Caldo de gallina (Chicken Soup)
But returning to the culinary matter at hand, we cannot finish this journey through the street foods of Lima without the celebrated caldo de gallina, a specialty that is usually eaten at night well and into the morning, even when day has already started for those who leave from work at dawn or those returning from some party.
The following video uploaded by YouTube user ytaperu [es] is a report about caldo de gallina in Lima prepared by University San Martín de Porras students:
In another video, YouTube user EdwinTarazonaNews [es] presents what he considers the best caldo de gallina:
There are numerous [es] recipes [es] and varieties [es] of caldo de gallina. In one his entries on the blog Perú Gourmand, Fernando Cataño offers some information on the history of this dish and where the best caldos de gallina can be found in Lima. He also explains [es] the reason for its fame:
Convertido ya en un clásico, el Caldo de gallina se ha convertido, acentuadamente en los últimos 20 años, en un platillo obligado a la hora de resurgir espíritus combativos y preparar nuevos ímpetus a las luchas por emprender, sean éstas de cualquier índole, desde las más atrevidas estrategias de seducción y embate sexual hasta las más nostálgicas representaciones de una adolescencia que se fue para no volver más.
Already a classic, in the last 20 years caldo de gallina has been converted into an obligatory dish during resurgence of combative spirits and new impetus to undertake struggle, whether these moments are the most daring strategies of seduction and sexual attack or the most nostalgic representations of an adolescence now gone never to return.
There are many dishes not included in this summary, such as papa rellena (stuffed potato), empanadas, the popular fried liver with yucas, cebiche al paso (ceviche on the go), rachi and pancita (varieties of tripe) usually sold by anticucheras, corn on the cob with cheese, emoliente (a Peruvian herbal drink), and much more. However, the diversity of Peruvian gastronomy cannot be limited to one post, and more than reading or viewing, the best way to experience and enjoy Peruvian food is with the palate.