My favorite time of the year is right now, this very week. If you’re into cooking (which I suspect most readers are) you are likely in Thanksgiving mode, too. I’m predictable at this time of the year. In a digital world of constant change, at least my Thanksgiving menu remains constant.
For a sample of my family’s favorite recipes, check out my Holiday Cookbook, which you will find by clicking the Gold Holiday Ball icon to the right of this copy. “Super-Simple” recipes and a menu slide show are also included in each category.
Please take advantage of the “print recipe only” option for individual recipes and the “find your favorite recipe” pull-down menus for searching site-wide. These features (and the absence of spam and holiday ads) are blessings.
Those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this week, have a wonderful time with the friends, family (and pets!) you love.
There’s a difference between vacationing and traveling. Traveling removes me from my comfort zone; vacationing amplifies my comfort. The past couple of weeks spent in this marvelous tapestry of a landscape called Peru would definitely qualify as Traveling.
Between navigating road blocks piled high with boulders, tree stumps, and old TV’s–then finding ourselves in the center of a demonstration against the government; between drinking tinctures to avoid altitude sickness while insuring said tincture is not of the stomach curdling, tap water vintage…bottom line, two rode hard ladies could use a beach in the Caribbean about now.
That’s not to say this wasn’t one of the best trips of my life. I love Peru. I love her food. I love her culture, her spirituality, her people. And I will write more about these travels when I have recovered from this country. In summery, Pachamama gave this disconnected woman a wake-up slap on her creamy North American cheek. (Food and culture are intrinsically linked. Here are some Peruvian people and their foods that we were delighted to meet.)
Gaston Acurio is the Peruvian chef recognized for bringing the delectable cuisine of his country to the world. Today, Peruvian food is widely considered one of the great world cuisines.
Ceviche (cebiche) is Peru's flagship dish of marinated seafood (trout pictured here) in chili peppers and limes usually served with sweet potatoes, onions and toasted corn.
Shrimp, shellfish and trout were featured in this version of cebiche.
There are thousands of varieties of potato with their own specific usages.
Color-drenched sauces and condiments accompanied most every dish we sampled. Pictured here they are sold by the kilo at a local market.
Papas Rellenas: Fried Mashed Potatoes filled with Beef served with Huancaina Sauce and Sarsa Criolla.
Ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine are mashed potatoes that are served compressed and chilled, filled with a variety of vegetables--perhaps fish--and served with a sauce of some sort.
Another version, fashionably molded in a timbale.
Negotiating a vegetarian meal could be a complex operation. Bits of meat seem to hide everywhere.
Anticuchos are brochettes made from beef hearts marinated in a various Peruvian spices and grilled. They are sold by street vendors, but we enjoyed them (not skewered) alongside livers and gizzards at Panchita, a popular creole restaurant in the Miraflores section of Lima.
We're all familiar with the plethora of health properties in quinoa, the ancient Inca grain. You'll find a wide variety of quinoa soups throughout Peru.
Quinoa, quinoa! Cleverly planted in little cakes, and even based in ice cream.
Another Peruvian favorite--guinea pig! Everyone has an opinion on this, errr, rodent and I found them delicious. With their tiny bones and rich flavor, they were reminiscent of game birds.
Trout, in all of its many guises, is Andean cookings primary freshwater fish and you will see it on every menu in every restaurant in Peru. Perhaps I exaggerate, but as much as I love trout, I'm done with this fish for a while.
Surprise! The main course is...trout!
This tea (note the coca leaves) helped with the soaring altitudes. This was my recovery drink after "hiking"--more like staggering--around a 16,000 foot landscape.
Ah...the coca leaf. This staple, though not delicious, has a plethora of medicinal properties. What we chewed (with quinoa ashes), ate in candy and drank in tea would land us a prison sentence in the USA.
Ah yes. When in Peru, you'll likely dine on alpaca. Judging from the "chew", it was certainly free-range and grass fed . I ate alpaca a couple of times--each experience quite different. It is a lean, flavorful meat that I especially enjoyed braised.
The beautiful black Inca corn (Kulli).
Shary, my fearless food-loving travel companion, sipping Chicha Morada--the infamous Peruvian purple corn drink. South Americans have all sorts of variations of corn-based drinks, and this Peruvian specialty is made by boiling purple corn with pineapple rind, apple, cinnamon, cloves and water, then seasoning it with sugar and lime juice.
Rumor has it there are as many festivals in Peru as there are species of potato (over 3,000 each year). The next few photos were snapped along a dirt road in a small village at one 3-day event. We had the opportunity to be a part of two festivals on our travels.
Visiting the colorful "Al Marcado" market in Lima. I haven't a clue as to what species of fish this is. It looks like something--a Parrotfish?--found in Caribbean waters, but it is from Peru. The Amazon is home to some of the largest fresh water fish on Earth.
We are deciding on lunch now; the charming proprietor is showing us the menu.
We pointed to the fish behind the counter we wished to try and within minutes it was ready to eat. Pictured here--fried with seaweed.
Another one of her market creations--Arroz Con Marischos--a fresh fish and rice dish seasoned with tomato, garlic, cumin peppers, turmeric, onions and paprika--typical ingredients enjoyed in traditional Peruvian recipes.
Farm to Table; an Amazon woman brings fruit from her farm to the local Lima market.
Luscious fruit from the Amazon jungle. Chirimoya --also known as Custard Apples-- are native to the Andean highlands of Peru. The inside is white, juicy and fleshy with a creamy custard like texture studded with seeds that look like beans. Chirimoya are sweet and taste like a combination of banana, pineapple, peach and strawberry.
The pulp of the Granadilla is runny and sweet; the caviar of fruits with edible crunchy seeds.
All of these Amazonian plant-based powders exhibit properties sure to cure what ails you.
We were guided through this incredibly diverse market in Lima by "Lima Te Llena", a chef-run individualized market tour. I highly recommend this tour to food lovers who wish to dig deeper into the culture of authentic Peruvian food.
We weren't the only ones feasting in Peru. Shary and I compare bites collected while hiking Machu Picchu.
Here’s a recipe I just made for Chicken Quinoa Soup that is soothing the cold virus I contracted from the man who was sneezing and sniffling on my return home flight. I don’t care how silly I look; I am wearing a mask the next time I fly during flu season.
In step with the rhythm of the season, October apples are incorporated into as many of my recipes as possible. I’ve put together a slide show (with accompanying links beneath the recipes) of some my favorite recipes incorporating apples. They wear the test of time.
Michigan places third in the all-American apple producing contest. I was surprised to learn that bit of trivia. Judging by the packed apple crates––the size of Ford Escorts–– dotting the landscape of northern Michigan, I thought Michigan would be the winner. Alas, no. Just as Washington state captures the sweet cherry crown, so to go the apple spoils, the state of New York bringing home the second place title. (Take heart, Michiganders. We produce the most tart cherries by a landslide.)
Tomorrow I leave the Land of Apples for the Land of Potatoes: Peru. Did you know that more than 3800 varieties of potatoes can be found in Peruvian cuisine? They differ in size, shape, color, skin, pulp, texture and taste and I’m determined to sample as many as I can. Potatoes aside, in the past few years, Peruvian cuisine has found its place in the annals of world-class gastronomical excellence. I’m a believer. Some of the best restaurant meals I’ve had in recent memory have been Peruvian. If interested in learning more about the countries cuisine, here’s an excellent site I found.
November is the time for thinking of Thanksgiving menus, no doubt. But perhaps I’ll toss in some flavors from Inca-land…
Taste buds prickle; wanderlust triggered. An Argentine barbecue (asado)
enticed me to Patagonia. A friend gave me a vial of ground sumac berries--4 months later I was
waking at dawn to the "Call To Prayer" in Turkey. Porcini to Tuscany, and so on. Read more about my chronicles of
trips and favorite associated recipes. Browse my travel recipes...
Here are ideas gleaned from others that speak to me;
where I highlight projects that bring friends, neighborhoods, and communities together. For me,
complimentary food makes the project and event more fun. Browse my projects and related recipes...