Chicken dinner on airplane, challenges with overhead light
Egg and cheese sandwich from Einstein’s Bagels, Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Oct. 18
Lemon pepper wings delivered to room at Fairfield Inn & Suites, Irving Texas, Oct. 17
“Mixto” sandwich with ham and edam cheese at posh Larcomar mall food court in Miraflores district. 2 a.m. Surrounded by clubs and half-dressed teenagers. With tall man in pastel polo shirt from Germany.
Anticuchos, beef hearts, at an upscale family restaurant off of the main square in Barranco, with hostal friend from Australia. No alcohol, so we drank chicha moradas.
First meal in Lima: Tortilla de verduras (vegetable omelette) eaten at signless lunch cafe in Barranco, Oct. 19
Pollo “hamburguesa” con jamon, bacon, papas, mayo, queso y mas. Bar had a shoddy video jukebox. I accidentally played the same Monchy and Alexandra song three times in a row and cleared out the restaurant.
Beef empanada eaten at Pachacamac ruins outside Lima, Oct. 20.
The breakfast given every morning at Barranco’s Backpacker’s Inn, Lima. Bread, butter, jam, banana, tea.
Aji de pollo with mashed potatoes and rice, on bus to Nasca. Bus attendant snapped at friend for asking about a vegetarian option.
At Lima bus station, going to Nasca with Swiss friend, Oct. 21
Photo of chips, taken in the hostal bathroom after a night of drinking.
Lunch after seeing the Nasca lines: 7 soles for a set meal hand-written on a piece of paper. First course: caldo de gallina, or chicken soup.
Sandwich bought on the streets of Nasca for 1 sole, approx. 30 cents. Woman told me it was called “chamoya.” It tasted like squash, Oct. 22.
“Sopa seca Typical Peru,” eaten on second floor open-air patio at touristy restaurant in Nasca. The “salsa verde” advertised on the menu seemed to be pesto.
Threw up. Could not eat this cheese sandwich on overnight bus through the Andes. Beginning of stomach problems.
Roasted chicken with salsa rocoto and mayonesa at local pollo a brasa place, Pollería El Campeón, by the main plaza de armas. Many beers. Before overnight bus to Abancay.
Main course: “Cau Cau,” a rich tripe stew with potatoes, peas and parsley.
Salty cow’s milk queso made in a tub in the kitchen, then set in the rafters of the ceiling to dry. My dinner, with local bread and clumpy heated milk from that evening’s milking. Eaten alone in the kitchen in the dark, while my hosts ate in front of the t.v. in the other room.
“Cau Cau,” served upon arrival at Zea farm in Urpipampa, and then for breakfast the next day. (The farm had no refrigerator, so it sat in a pot next to the stove.) This version contained tripe and many other disks and meats of unnatural shapes.
Soda crackers purchased at local food shop upon arrival in Abancay, Oct. 23
“Three hams” sandwich at hip touristy hostal in Cusco, late that night after bus ride through the Andes. Eaten on the bed.
Caldo for lunch with beef, carrots, parsley, quinoa and alfalfa from the backyard. Immediately afterwards, I waited outside until a car drove by, and then left. Oct. 24.
Very sour plum, or ciruelo, bought on the street.
“Lengua” pastry at Panificadora La Sophiana in downtown Cusco. Raining outside.
Sandwich con huevo at Lechuzo’s Coffee, Avenida Sol in downtown Cusco. The “Friends” theme song was playing, Oct. 25
A taste of cow’s milk Queso de Anta, made in the plains northwest of Cusco. Spongy and lactic.
Sprocket cookies at giant open-air San Pedro Market, Cusco. Stomach problems persisting and wafting meat and seafood smells made me nauseous, Oct. 26.
Fried wontons with Queso Andino and guacamole at hostal bar that night. For first time during trip, had incredible diarrhea.
Chocolate with beans from nearby Quillabamba, made in Cusco. Eaten later in the hostal. Only ate a few bites: not very good.
A taste of Paria cheese made from the southeastern Puno region cerca de Lake Titicaca. Strong hay smell.
Before bus to Machu Picchu, finally got up in time for breakfast at the hostal. Scrambled eggs, very salty, Oct. 27.
Main course was “Aeropuerto”: fried rice with noodles and chicken. Tamarind sauce, lime and Mexican-style tomato salsa on the side.
Dinner at local chifa (Chinese restaurant) on the main Ave. Belen, 10 soles. First course: wonton soup.
Found the hipsters later in the Disneyland-esque city of Aguas Calientes, at the gates of Machu Picchu. First course of 35 sole set meal: palta (Peruvian avocado) salad with mustard vinaigrette. Waiter looked like Peruvian version of my brother.
Free banana chips on train to Machu Picchu, eaten on table, seated across from two Montreal hipsters. Story about Dov Charney wanting to burn an employee’s soul while passing through the mountains.
Alfajore and Americano, purchased in train station to Machu Picchu, right before boarding. Spilled Americano on alpaca sweater.
Breakfast at Aguas Calientes hostal, 5 a.m. Scrambled eggs and bread, Oct. 28
Third course: “chesscake” topped with marmelade de sauco, a fruit from the jungle. Almost entirely sure it contained no actual cheese.
Second course: lomo saltado made from alpaca meat. Tasted like beef.
Second course: Milanesa de pollo with perfect crunchy crust and crappy French Fries. Instead of sauce, I was given some chopped onions upon request.
Back and Aguas Calientes, managed to find a lunch place with a “menu economico” hidden on the back page. First course: Caldo de casa with potatoes, celery, spinach, parsley and whole black peppercorns.
Nature Valley bar at Machu Picchu.
A friend I met at Aguas Calientes hostal happens to be at my new hostal in Cusco. We eat lunch at an upscale restaurant and “pisco bar” called Limo on second floor above the Cusco McDonald’s, overlooking the grandiose Plaza de Armas. Complimentary trio of sauces including yellow huancaína and two flavors of ají, with purple potato French Fries.
Breakfast omelette with carne de cerdo, slightly shredded pork, at locals’ place Cafe Ayllu. So thankful whenever the coffee is not instant, Oct. 29
In Cusco that night, found an hamburguesa stand on the bottom floor of a pollo a brasa place. Included chunks of hot dog, potato sticks, mustard, mayo and aji crema. 3 soles, or 1 dollar. Hamburger meat tasted like beans and foam wrap.
Afterwards, we walked down to the ultra touristy “ChocoMuseo” (Chocolate Museum) which was more like a cafe and a gift shop. I ordered chocolate fondue and she ordered the chocolate brownie.
Fried balls of yucca that have been filled with Queso Andino (similar to Monterey Jack in texture) and topped with cheesy huancaína sauce, with micro greens on the side.
Langostinos, or shrimps, that have been breaded in panko and paired with a seafood tartar sauce. Pretty sure I ordered a sushi roll in its place.
Tallarin de pollo, chicken chow mein, in diner-style restaurant Polleria La Fonda. Would not serve me ceviche because it was the evening; not fresh. Other specialties include Cajamarca green soup and fried Guinea pig with red onions.
Ham and cheese croissant at the Cusco airport, waiting for flight to Andean highlands city of Cajamarca, morning of Oct. 30.
Parted ways with my friend. Felt very depressed and alone.
Went on a Spanish-language guided tour to an old hacienda that became a worker’s cooperative in ’70s under agrarian reform led by a military government. They make a Cajamarca specialty called manjar blanco, a caramely custard made with milk, sugar and vanilla.
The best meal of my trip, although Cajamarca was not by the sea: “Cebiche de tollo” (raw dogfish, or shark) eaten in the central market. Contains the giant corn “choclo”, spicy roasted crunchy corn, red onions and buttery sweet potatoes to soak it up. Topped with perfectly fried “chicharron de pota” and a creamy lime mayo. A couple dollars.
Complimentary breakfast served every day at my hotel (Cajamarca doesn’t have hostals): local pan, jam, instant coffee, fresh squeezed papaya juice and excellent local butter, Oct. 31.
Second course: beef stir fry with potatoes and carrots. It was Halloween and beggars were walking into the restaurant in clown costumes asking for money.
I met a girl from Lima and she took me to a plain cafe for dinner. First course: sopa de arverjas (pea soup)
Afterwards, they took us to a waterfall where ladies were selling hard-boiled eggs with spicy green rocoto pepper salsa. The tour guide took my picture.
Below the Mirador de Santa Apolonia a woman was selling aguaymanto, or yellow gooseberries in a delicate outer leaf. Tasted like an incredibly sweet cherry tomato, with an excellent tang on the back of your tongue.
Feeling depressed and hung-over after staying out til 5 a.m. drinking pitchers of pisco with new friend at Karaoke bar called Mr. Chop. Found the most Limeñan restaurant in town and ordered the ham and cheese omelet, Nov. 1.
Dessert: leche asada. Didn’t eat much. I have never liked flan.
Around the corner, rows of identical noodle carts with giant woks and what appeared to be crispy fried chicken. Right when I sat down on the makeshift bench, my stomach rumbled ominously. I scarfed down as much as I could and clenched my legs until I found a cab to take me directly to the hotel. The chicken wasn’t crispy like it looked.
Peruvian tamale from a lady hunched on the side of the road: wrapped in banana leaf with a punchy salsa criolla of thinly-sliced red onions that have been soaked in lime.
Wandering around toward the evening, I hit a popular square and began a street food crawl, climaxing early with this papa rellena: mashed potatoes that have been filled with beef, formed into a ball and then fried in oil right in front of you until they’re crunchy crisp, then topped with mayo, rocoto salsa and cabbage.
Inside the cemetery, dozens of giant pots filled with potato and all sorts of animal organs and bones, surrounded by entire families passing bottles of homemade chicha. A half-sleeping woman was selling this Cebiche de Chocho, with soft Peruvian tarwi seeds, tomatoes, parsley and lime.
The man called them “alfajores fritos.” They tasted stale and were covered in a gummy flavorless syrup.
Churros at the gates of the town cemetery, Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 2.
Took another Spanish tour to a local dairy farm and a garden filled with giant spherical Japanese orchids. I had two minutes before the van left and I spotted a family frying these in their garage next door. I had the brown one. It one sol and it was amazing.
A couple doors down,an ice cream shop called Heladería Holanda, owned by a man who moved here from Holland in the ’90s. I tried the pushgay, a wild blueberry that grows on the rocky peaks of Cajamarca. Made from high-quality local Cajamarca cream, the ice cream was incredibly rich and flavorful. The best I’ve had in a long time.
Back in town: the “superlechon” pork sandwich with Inca Cola at a local shop at the main Plaza de Armas.
Chicken tamale with Peruvian olives, the only thing offered to me at this local restaurant in Plaza de Armas, my last day in Cajamarca Nov. 3.
I asked the cab driver if there were still festivities going on at the cemetery. There were not. He took me to a carnival where I road the ferris wheel alone and ate two rounds of springy anticuchos (beef hearts) in between a big bottle of Cusqueña beer.
Didn’t make any new friends on the tour. Felt depressed, so I returned to Limeñan-style place Don Pancho’s to try the town’s special dish, caldo verde (green soup.) The broth is basically water and very finely chopped Peruvian herbs. In the center: a plump of locally-made fresh “quesillo” cheese curd the texture of warm mozzarella. ’90s alternative rock was on the radio. They played “Closing Time.”
Comforted to be back in big city Lima, I happened upon this San Francisco-esque cocktail bar with colorful wall masks, gender-queer bartenders and an attractive long-haired manager/laptop DJ. Sipping a steaming tea-infused cocktail, I enjoyed a plate of creamy fettuccine with mushrooms. I decided to be done with “Peru” and go to a contemporary art museum the next day.
Trying to do some more research before I got on the plane, I purchased this maracuya (passion fruit) yogurt drink at a storefront for Chugur, one of the larger dairy farms in the area. It was incredibly rich, fruity and delicious.
After breakfast, I returned to the central market and asked about the queso mantecoso, a specialty of Cajamarca. (The blocks on the left.) It was the texture of room-temperature butter, with a gamey washed-rind smell and flavor undertones of hamburger grease, fermented durian fruit and sheep semen. So disgusting I had to run to a nearby stand and purchase a warm bottle of Coke Zero to get the taste out of my mouth.
I took a bus downtown, thinking there were museums there. I couldn’t find an art museum, so I settled on seeing a Franciscan monastery with ancient catacombs and a mural of people eating Guinea pig during The Last Supper. I had this shrimp cebiche and a beer at the place caddy-corner to it.
I also staged a photo shoot for a wheel of Gouda I had purchased in Cajamarca. I paired it with the aguaymanto I bought earlier.
My last day in Peru. A roommate had told me we were allowed to use the kitchen space at Barranco’s Backpacker’s Inn, so I bought an iced coffee and strolled down to a local shop to buy some eggs for a scramble. I hadn’t cooked for myself in three weeks. I felt invigorated like I had reclaimed parts of myself I had deeply missed, Nov. 4.
The Acevichado handroll spewed out with spicy ceviche mayo. Underneath was an array of raw fish, shrimp tempura and the sturdy Peruvian avocado “palta.”
I read an article about Nikkei, or Japanese Peruvian fusion, and had to try it before I left. I spent two hours cabbing and walking endlessly until I finally found a place called Mr. Sushi in the Scottsdale-like neighborhood of Miraflores. I ordered a regular bowl of miso soup, and for some reason, it tasted like a revelation.
I purchased this hot churro from a woman sleeping at the counter of an empty storefront down the street. (She woke up for me.) It was literally the most delicious, supple sweet churro I have ever eaten. Afterwards, I walked down to the chinatown of central Lima and discovered hundreds of thousands of people crowding the markets and hidden shopping malls tucked into every corner. It was overwhelming and beautiful.
I quickly fell asleep and woke up in Grapevine, Texas, sweaty, sore-eyed and excited. I hovered up the escalator to the swanky Grand Hyatt and ate this croissant staring out the window onto the rainy airport, Nov. 5.
At the Lima airport at 1:30 a.m. before my flight: Dunkin’ Donuts and milk.
The huancaína was like a shrimp tempura roll but covered in the sensuous Peruvian cheese sauce and topped with nutty black sesame seeds.
After an emotional goodbye I got back on the shuttle and went round the circle again, ending up at a wine bar where I ate this Comte and had three large glasses of wine. When I got back to the airport I had two celebratory beers at a Tex-Mex bar across from my gate. At that point of suspended elation, I forgot to take a picture of the complimentary chips and salsa.
I met a guy from London on the shuttle and we spent 3 hours at the Grapevine Mills outlet mall together, where every single vendor in the food court offered a sample. It took me two more hours and a grueling trip to Burlington Coat Factory to work up an appetite to eat this…
I had a 13-hour layover, so I took a free shuttle to downtown Grapevine and ate second breakfast at a Hooter’s ripoff where a girl in hot shorts asked me if I’d like a Corona at 10 in the morning. I had the huevos rancheros and an iced coffee. It was enormous.