Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Peru trip: An introduction

I didn't think it was going to take me so long to post this. I was planning a post before my trip, maybe during, and definitely after. I even thought that I would be able to read "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" by Marc Adams. None of that happened. I decided it was best to soak it all in rather than be glued to any electronic device. Of course, once I got home, life took over. Finally, I have been frantically preparing the Spanish IV Honors curriculum which I might make a post eventually as a way to preview what I hope for the coming school year.

(What is finally forcing me to sit down and write about my experience in Peru is the fact that I will be in Colombia in two days. If I don't do it now, then it will be that much harder after.)

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I had to do some serious pre-orientation homework. I actually was so grateful for that because I went on the trip with a focus. I was particularly interested in the following things: Peru's geography and the effect climate changes are having on the people, the rise of the Incans and their subsequent conquest, and finally Incan legends. These three themes tied in so well with what I am preparing to teach in Spanish IV Honors, a curriculum I'm designing myself that the trip was well worth it from a professional point-of-view. (Obviously, it makes sense to teach about what you are passionate about and what you have the resources for.) My hope was to be able to supplement my curriculum with authentic materials and first hand accounts of Peru.

I will organize the rest of this post around the highlights of the trip. Let's start with food! My favorite.

1. Food

Peruvian food has grown in popularity in the last few years, and I could see why. There was barely a meal I didn't like. I ate everything. When my husband and I discuss food, we tend to say the food "me cayo bien." to technically say that it sat well with us. (A nice way to also say I didn't get an upset stomach which is an absolute nightmare for a tourist.) I tried as much food as I could since it was all so tasty. Sad thing of course is then missing all that new food you like since it's hard to find here.

A. Beverages - There were a lot of new things to try. Although I drank a lot of mineral water and coca tea for the altitude, I was still able to try some other stuff.

Guarana (a fruit from the Amazon) and the famous Inca Kola (which tastes like bubble gum fluoride)
Pisco Sour 
So happy to drink a mug full of passion fruit/granadilla juice. I was in heaven!
 B. Corn - Purple corn is one of the coolest things ever. Who would have thought that purple corn would make such delicious things? The yellow corn they have is out of this world as well.

Purple corn in its natural state (photo taken at the market in Cusco)
Mazamorra morada - This is so different than the Mazamorra in Colombia (which is corn with milk) This was more like a jelly/gelatin substance with corn and fruit. I liked it.  
By far my favorite purple corn product. It's called chicha morada. Delicious!! I couldn't get enough. 
Love chicha morada so much I brought home these candies. 
Great snack. Satisfies that crunchy/salty craving. 
Corn the size of my thumbnail!
C. Meat. Well, you didn't think I was going to Peru and leave without try their delicacies, did you? The two most exotic ones are alpaca and cuy (guinea pig). I definitely prefer the alpaca over the guinea pig.

This alpaca was cooked just right.
How much I really ate. I split it with 3 other people. The full one is below.
Here it is! 
D. Potatoes - Potatoes can be traced back to Peru (and not Ireland). You can imagine how happy this Irish girl was in a place like this. 

I got the courage up to ask the vendor about the different potatoes. I wish I recorded it. Basically, she said each variety has a different purpose. 
My favorite - Causa! I could eat this everyday. No joke.

Papas a la Huancaina - a fabulous side dish. Huancaina sauce has a corn and yellow pepper base.
More causa - a meal in itself
 C. Other - These are other iconic dishes from Peru.

(l-r) frijoles, ceviche, papas a la huancaina, causa, arroz con mariscos, and seco. 
Pollo a la brasa - By the end of the week, I was so ready for this meal. Pardos chicken lived up to all the hype. 
Stay tuned for more from Peru!

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