Often I get emails or letters that ask about the food here…so let me tell you a little about the food, I’ll take you through a typical day of meals here in the valley. For starters you can pretty much guarantee that rice will be present with each and every meal, no matter the time of day it doesn’t matter there is almost always white rice. Plus, rice is grown all over the valley so it’s fresh, not that I am sure there is such a thing as rice that is unfresh. But the other day I did have the honor of sifting through the rice. I am really confused on the whole process of rice anyway, I am starting to learn. Once the tops of the rice are chopped off (it looks like wheat), they are laid out front of the houses on large tarps and it dries in the sun all day. The thing I’m not sure about is when it goes from looking like wheat into looking like rice. But I do know that when I was sifting through the rice my job was to pull out the ones that still looked like wheat. So I don’t get it!
Okay, so back to the food, breakfast usually starts with a fried egg and rice and usually this coffee drink. It’s not really coffee but I know it’s similar. Some days, if I’m lucky I just get bread for breakfast and I have some jelly I put on it. Other times I could have pasta with chicken for breakfast. This morning…I actually had boiled sweet potatoes and a fried egg and I thought it was a good breakfast.
Lunch is usually and almost always rice and chicken. And you would think that with all the chicken I eat that I would be so sick of chicken, but the truth is that I am always craving more and more….there is usually barely any meat to pull off the bone of whatever part of the chicken I am served so I am always wishing for more. The absolute best part of lunch is the juices. I have fresh juice everyday from an assortment of fruits. My absolute favorite is maracuya. It’s this hollow shelled fruit that has these weird globules of seeds inside and you put that part in a blender and it makes the best juice you have EVER had. Other times I get papaya blended up or guananbana which is a coconut looking fruit that doesn’t have a really distinct taste but isn’t bad. A lot of time, I just have lemonade made from limes. Sometimes they also make this awesome tea from orange leaves and I like that too. The other day I had lunch at my host sisters house, and she made juice out of these weird little tomatoes that are a little bigger then a cherry tomato but also resemble an apple. That juice was not so good, it smelled like something I shouldn’t be drinking, but I did it anyway.
So for dinner, usually it might be chicken and rice again. But sometimes I get chicken soap with some vegetables thrown in there. Or at night they go and get cheese and we have cheese and rice. The cheese isn’t like anything I can explain. It is made from cow milk and they make in their home, and it’s wet and just different. Most of like a cottage cheese texture but molded together. I actually like that dinner because the cheese just adds a little something. And my absolute favorite meal usually is avocado. In Lima I used to have mashed avocado sandwiches. Here, they just cut up the avocado and serve it like that and I always really like it. That isn’t as frequent anymore because apparently avocados have been hard to come by.
Their fancy dinner is this meal called green rice and chicken. And it is literally just that, it’s green rice (not sure what makes the rice green) and it is always mixed with carrots, and then chicken, and usually a lettuce leaf with a slice of potato and this really good spicy yellow sauce I have grown to love. No lie, that is literally the EXACT meal that gets served at all special occasions.
There are rarely snacks, but if there are, it’s usually a mango.
That’s pretty much it, it doesn’t vary too much, I think of all the fruits and vegetables that they have here they could get more creative and experiment, but not really. But I’m not complaining because I actually enjoy the food, I am losing weight so that makes me happy. The variety kind of sucks at times, but I actually look forward to some of it. I guess the lack of options will do that. And food is a huge deal here, they take so much pride in it even though not much creatively goes into making it.So when I get the opportunity to go into the capital city for a night or two and I can pick my meal, usually we go to Carbon Burger (I know not a very Peruvian name), and they have really good hamburgers for literally the equivalent to $1-2 American dollars. Sometimes we go to the chicken place and get a giant chicken dinner and fries, that makes up for the chicken craving! And then there are the other indulgences that include a frappucino at the cool place we discovered or a milkshake at this really good ice-cream spot. Other than that I usually get some good bread for an avocado sandwich ( I do love those things) or I pick up some fresh fruit in the market for snacks.