19 April 2011

Sanguiches for Lunch - Lima Style

World of sauces. I'm home.

The food in Peru has me gushing like a little girl with a big crush. In the last 5 days we've had a few misses (pizza - should have known better) but for the most part the food has been like a sloppy kiss on the tummy from a happy grandma - or should I say abuelita?

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but from the ceviche to the churros, every Peruvian dish we've sampled has been amazing. I've also noticed that in keeping with a worldwide trend, the cheaper and more local the establishment the better (the best food I have ever eaten has been from carts).

You'd think we'd have taken this to heart, but on our last night in Lima we splashed out and decided to eat supper in a swish Peruvian fusion restaurant - and we must have made a bad choice. (There are some amazing high end restos in Peru - just clearly not this one.) The food, which was similarly priced to a mid-range Vancouver eatery, was overwrought and overly creamy, bathed in mayo and kind of... creepy.

Like a creepy technicolour, Texas Chainsaw massacre-y approximation of "food"

The intent was there - the basic ingredients good - but something was wrong. It's like it was trying to be too posh. Like the chef thought that the simple, fresh flavours of Peruvian fare weren't enough. It was disappointing - like a dumbed down, family-friendly Denny's version of good food - but I vowed not to let it get me down.

Instead we vowed to stick to local. Stick to the cheap. Eat whatever the residents are eating, head to places with a line-up or a crowd. From India to LA, Fiji to Cambodia - this has always served me and my stomach well (sometimes too well).

The next afternoon, before catching our bus to Huacachina, we grabbed our lunch from a local sanguicheria that had both a line-up and cheap prices. Miraflores is blanketed with these sandwich shops, but most serve only the standard meaty choices: chiccarones, lomo saltado or pollo.

This shop, on the other hand, had a vegetariano saltado (sauteed vegetables) sandwich - crispy fried onions, mushrooms and peppers layered with thick slabs of cheese and a healthy portion of avocado, all served on a big crusty bun. The staff were concerned that we wouldn't understand the 8 - count em' - 8 sauces available, so they made sure that we tried a taste of each one.

Seeing a sign on the counter advertising some of my favourite ingredients - papas y queso (potatoes and cheese), I insisted that we try a portion of the Papas Criollos - potatoes cooked in the Creole style that is popular in Peru, a mix of Asian, African and Spanish flavours. These potatoes were smothered in a delicious cheese (like an edam) and layered with salsa rocoto - a fiery hot chili sauce that the Limenos were afraid to give us. We showed them that not all gringos are afraid of spicy food by slathering more - much more - of the sauce on top.

The lunch, served in greasy paper covered baskets and costing a few dollars each, was pretty much the most that a traveler can ask for. Cheap, fresh, filling and best of all - authentic. High priced disappointment aside, screw the ruins - the food alone in this country is worth the trip.

Best of all? I still have 20 days of sanguiches, papas, ceviche and churros to go - I'll keep you posted. I may need to book an extra seat on the way home.

1 comment:

Kitsuko said...

Well, Violet Dear, I am sad to say I am jealous for your taste buds! The foods sound absolutely divine, I will be putting them on my List of things I want to eat before I kick it.