It had to be the food….
A blog about Lima could start nowhere else. And yeah, it’s a long one…
Today I woke up full of energy and went for a run along the beautiful Malecón, an expanse of breath-taking clifftop paths and green spaces overlooking the Pacific Ocean (check it out on Google maps). With manicured gardens, mosaics, sculptures, and a light-house, it’s always a hive of activity with people running, using the outdoor exercise equipment, walking their dogs, or just jumping off the cliffs (paragliding!). We’re lucky to live right on the edge of the Malecón, so in the evening sun we literally watch people flying past our balcony! I’m not one of those people who goes running while I’m on holiday (I don’t understand them…) and so today I stopped and thought, wow, I actually live here.
Today’s run was long overdue. When we arrived we spent nearly three weeks in a hotel which meant eating out twice a day. And we didn’t exactly hold back with so much amazing food on offer! That overindulgence was then juxtaposed by a violent bout of food poisoning or not reacting well to the local water or who-knows-what, which meant eating nothing but bananas and a few mouthfuls of dry crackers and rice for 5 days – no bueño.
But now I’m more or less back to normal – I felt strong enough for my run (read very slow jog) this morning, and definitely ready to dive back into Lima’s amazing food. And I’ve made a deal with Steven – the more we exercise, the more we can eat!
To be honest, I was a bit worried about eating here when we were thinking about the big move. Because of my coeliac disease I need to follow a strictly gluten free diet, which can be really difficult when eating out and asking people to check for traces of hidden wheat, barley, soy sauce, etc. The language barrier only compounds this. But armed with special coeliac dining cards in Spanish, slowly improving my vocab, and Steven quizzing waiters and chefs about ingredients and food prep, I’ve mostly been able to relax and enjoy a lot of the food. Also, most of the staples of Peruvian cuisine are all gluten free, and I’ve discovered quinoa is a coeliac’s best friend – quinoa muffins (my breakfast most mornings), quinoa carrot cake, quinoa flour, quinoa pasta and much more! There’s even quinoa beer, but sadly I couldn’t drink that, as it still has barley in it.
Exploring the restaurants of Lima has been a tantalising voyage of discovery – a lesson in food, language and geography! The quality of the ingredients and the diversity of global cuisines that influence the execution of food here is a mix that produces a uniquely Limeño fusion gastronomy. This has earned the city the moniker of gastronomic capital of South America. There are THREE restaurants on the World’s 50 best restaurants list in Lima, including number four, all of which are on our hit list of course! I have a feeling this won’t be my only blog about food but here are a few interesting things I’ve enjoyed so far:
Anticuchos. Yes, I ate beef hearts…. (see photo below)…. And they were delicious! Skewered, marinated and grilled, when prepared right they don’t taste like offal at all. To the contrary, they’re tender, succulent and offaly delish…. (sorry…)
Yuka. Aka cassava in the Caribbean, or tapioca in other parts of the word. As a West Indian, I thought I knew this humble root vegetable, but I’ve had it cooked about five different ways since I’ve been here and can’t get enough of it. My favourite has been mashed with freshly grilled swordfish and asparagus – that was my first dinner in Peru in a restaurant overlooking the sea and a hard act to follow.
Lomo Saltado. A local favourite and a great example of Lima’s fusion cooking. In simple terms it’s a beef stir-fry, so dialling up the Cantonese influence. But it’s unlike anything you’ll find on a Chinese menu, with tomatoes, onions, soy sauce (yup we found a restaurant that does a gf version!) and served up with rice and potato or yucca chips. Yum.
Ceviche. Of course I had to mention the ceviche – see below. Amazing fresh fish, lime juice, ají (chilli), sweet potato, choclo (think sweet corn, but on steroids) and crunchy roasted corn kernals – what’s not to love? I love spicy food, but I learned the hard way not to ask for anything spicy in Lima. Last week’s ceviche lunch blew my socks off and I couldn’t finish it! Every week my language school offers a cooking class as an extra cultural activity, and ceviche is on the menu for next week, so I’ll have to give it a go and report back (see, food blog II is already in the making!)…
Ok the food chat is making me hungry. I’m going out……..
Love from Lima! xx
P.S. Let me know what you think using the comments box below, and also what you’d like to read about la vida Lima 🙂