Food for thought part eight – Bolivia and Peru

Food at a Peruvian market

Bolivia isn’t exactly a culinary paradise, that’s not to say the food is bad, just a little bland. Peru on the other hand definitely wins the prize for flavour in South America, thank you Peru for finally bringing spice back to the table! Here are some of the regional specialities from this part of this trip…

Menu del día (Bolivia and Peru)
The menu del día is the cheap way to eat in Bolivia or Peru, it is typically a two or three course meal comprised of a soup starter (often a little watery), a main of some kind of flavourless meat served with boiled potatoes and rice or pasta (if you’re lucky this might be accompanied by a sauce, if not you can liven it up with the ever present salsa picante) and a desert of tinned fruit salad or jelly. All of this is usually washed down with an unidentifiable ‘juice’, essentially sugary water. It’s a pretty no frills affair but cheap and filling.

Chicken, I think, red sauce, and pasta

Salchipapa (Bolivia and Peru)
Salchipapa is the kind of dish you might concoct with what’s left in your cupboard, chips mixed with chopped frankfurters, sliced onions and peppers smothered in a tomato sauce.

Quinoa soup (Bolivia)
Quinoa is a small round grain sometimes used as an accompaniment similar to rice. It’s a nice way to bulk up the often thin vegetable soups served in Bolivia.

Quinola soup

Trucha (Bolivia and Peru)
I believe that trucha (trout) fresh from lake Titicaca is one of the nicest Bolivian dishes we encountered. It can be found cooked in all manner of ways, but my favourite was probably trucha grilled in a lemon sauce.

Chifa (Bolivia and Peru)
Chifas are Chinese restaurants of varying quality found throughout Bolivia and Peru (although probably more prominently in Peru). A refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous meat and rice (although you can of course find dishes containing both of these constituents, just with more flavour than usual!).

Fresh fruit salad from the market in Sucre, Bolivia

Ceviche (Peru)
The best dish I have tasted in months! I have to admit I was skeptical, I’m not a fan of sushi and to be honest the idea of eating raw fish doesn’t really appeal to me. Ceviche has definitely changed that! Ceviche is raw fish marinated in a chilli and lime sauce topped with raw onions and served with a side of sweet potato and giant sweetcorn (seriously -the sweetcorn in Peru is huge!), a dish packed with tongue-tingling flavour, definitely one not to be missed.

A dish of the gods

Rocoto relleno (Peru)
Another fine example of tasty Peruvian food, the spicy red peppers are stuffed with minced beef, onions, diced boiled egg and plenty of seasoning.

Spicy and stuffed, perfect

Cuy (Peru)
If you’ve ever had a pet Guinea Pig you may want to stop reading now. Yes cuy is roasted or fried Guinea Pig. Whilst the crunchy skin is nicely flavoured with herbs and spices, as might be expected there’s not a lot of actual meat to be had on this Peruvian delicacy!

Guinea Pigs are tasty food here…

Restaurant-style cuy

Pisco sour (Peru)
Peru’s most famous cocktail made from Pisco (grape brandy), lime juice, bitters, sugar and egg whites is a real treat and impossible to avoid!

Enjoying a pisco sour… and yet more ceviche!

With only four weeks left until we re-enter the world of cheddar cheese, marmite and salt and vinegar crisps (seriously, these are the things I miss!) I wonder what Colombia and Cuba have in store…