I thought it was about time to post another blog re: food in Huancayo. Every week or so, I spend time with R’s family living the true vida peruana sometimes helping to prepare delish comida (food, but doesn’t comida sound more exotic?), but usually contributing as the official taste-tester. Here, I have had many opportunities to develop my skill of enjoying and appreciating food whether it’s desayuno (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch), cena (dinner), or lonche (which sounds a lot like “lunch-y,” but is actually a Peruvian term referring to something like an “evening tea + snack.”) In the picture, I’m in San Carlos practicing skewering panchos (hot dogs) while R’s mom prepares the bloody anticuchos (cow hearts). Que rico! (Yum!)
Now that Maria’s over her month of tummy trouble that hit her hardcore upon arrival in Huancayo, she’s feeling good enough to get back into cooking (her usual refried beans – good thing we bought a blender) and experimenting with random tidbits we find in the mercado (market). A few weeks ago, we discovered how to take advantage of the booths in the mercado that are dedicated solely to condiments. These booths have huge bowls of liquids of different colours – creamy looking sauces, salsas, dark green yummy muck, mysterious spices, the works. All we have to do is tell the lady what we’re cooking with (e.g. pasta with spinach) and she mixes a whole bunch of the liquids together to make a unique homemade sauce just for us! Amazing eh?
Another discovery – the cheese in Concepción (a town just outside of Huancayo). Whenever we run out, we take the trip out just to buy the fresh cheese from the milk factory there. I always get the queso fresco (literally, “fresh cheese”), then María and I share the stronger queso andino (Andean cheese) or queso hollandés (Dutch cheese).
It’s also become a habit that one or both of us take the almost-daily trip to the panadería (bakery) just around the corner from our apartment to not only buy bread (petit pan for me, ciabatta for María) but also treat ourselves to a churro, which is nothing like the churros we know from Disneyland – these Peruvian churros are soft and filled with melted caramel. We always get them heated in the microwave there. I’m at the panadería so often that the ladies there know me by name and I always stop to chat with them a bit. I’m also good friends with the with the helado (ice cream) lady who I always wave to – even when I haven’t been buying many ice cream bars lately because the weather is getting a lot colder. Then there’s the esquina (corner) lady who sits at the corner of the street near our apartment – I always go to her when I have a craving for my favourite Peruvian chocolate bar, Sublime. “Hola mamita!” I always call out to her like a true peruana and she always replies, “Hola chinitaaa!”
Speaking of being chinita (the little Chinese girl)… for those of you that were wondering, the visa-renewal-trip to Santiago, Chile was duber successful. Upon re-entry, I’m walking up to the Peruvian customs officer with my passport, forms, and officially signed documents stating that I’m a volunteer here so that I can get stamped for more than the 90 days they originally gave me, all shaking and nervous – and the first thing the officer says to me is the familiar, “Hola chinitaaa!” Of course you can stay in Peru for however long you want, he tells me in Spanish. So he stamps me for 183 days – 3 days more than what I hear they usually give Canadians. All for being small-eyed. =)