June 2, 2011

Peruvian Street Food: Comida de Paso

I had a wonderful week in Peru discovering some of the country's most beautiful food and adventures with one of my good friends Maurine, who works to save the Amazonian Rainforest in that neck of the woods.  From boat tours to the sea lions and penguins in Paracas, sand-boarding in Huacachina, hiking on the Incan trail up to Machu Picchu, flying over the Nazca lines - it was the Amazing Race meets the History Channel, in Spanish - Trailer Food Diaries style.  We had street food ("trailer food") at each point of interest and I gathered some recipes along the way.

Our first street food effort was made here in Lima.  We had avocado ("palta") sandwiches and apple-quinoa soup for breakfast before boarding the bus to Pisco.  Quinoa, along with corn and potatoes are the country's staple food.  Traditional plates also include Cuy (guinea pig), and alpaca (llama).  The Avocado sammies were an instant hit and we made them a bunch throughout the trip for snacks.  Just fresh baked rolls, sliced avocados and salt. 

And here is where we bought the fresh avocados and rolls from street food vendors at the market in Pisco:


Fresh fruit was a common thing for street food vendors to sell in each town.  I was surprised to learn that many of the vendors were not growing their own fruit, but shipping it in from other parts of Peru.  One of the ladies in this market was making fresh pestos.  Some were from aji (their version of the jalapeno - yum!), another was cilantro-based.  She suggested using them with a little milk to make a creamy sauce for chicken.

The purple corn in the middle/top of this photo is what is used to make "Chicha Morada" - a corn-based purple juice/drink that is served hot.  It is typically non-alcoholic, although, you can ferment it I'm told.  Another popular Peruvian drink is the Pisco Sour. Pisco is an alcohol made from a white grape, but not the same grapes used for wine.  We flew over some of the Pisco vinyards on the Nazca tour, but I didn't have enough time to go explore the grape up close.

Confession: my favorite meal during the Peruvian adventure was not street food.  This was breakfast in Nazca. Potatoes with cheese and herbs and coca tea.  Coca leaves are used widely in Peru for tea, or to chew (tobacco-style).  The intent when using coca is to clear your head or to remove pain.  Indeed...
 Award: Coolest Place to get Street Food - at the base of the mountain at the Pisac ruins. This chick makes a mean fresh OJ!

Look! A mobile food vendor, who's a little more than the average Peruvian-street-food-bear.  This guy sets up in Cusco ("the belly-button of the world" to the Inca's) and fires up his oven inside the truck to cook pizzas and hamburgers for the tourists.

Among other foodie interests, this area is also known for it's Ceviche and Salt.  We passed the main salt island mine in Paracas, which is a major export for Peru along with - um - guano... different islands but remarkably close.  Funny quote from the tour: "Guano was used in the 1800's for explosives.  Now it's used for agriculture."

Stay tuned for the recipes!

TFD and Gypsy Picnic representin'!