By Joan Peterson and Brook Soltvedt
Illustrated by Susan Chase
This book is a faithful food-lovers guide. The west coast of South America is a popular, relatively new destination for millions of travelers these days, and there’s far more there than Machu Picchu and Darwin’s Galapagos to attract. If you’re headed for Peru, this book’s a must.
Peruvian foods is a healthy diet of fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits and spicy chile. They are also fond of quinoa, a grain-like substance much like a translucent couscous, and bland for many recipe variations.
The authors give you the full food tour beginning with the food history of Peru, then they break it down regionally. They also offer tips on making the most of local marketplaces. Additionally, they prepare you to not look too foolish or helpless when ordering from a Peruvian menu and supply phrases, as well. More important they give you 27 pages of what they call their Menu Guide. This is a very comprehensive listing of probably most popular dishes both regional and national. They alphabetize, then describe each briefly. This can help you know what you want for dinner before you ever get to a good restaurant. This section also includes a section of delightful, glossy color pictures of elaborately arranged foods which Peruvians excel at.
Next are 27 more pages which are a glossary of foods and food-associated items with tips on correct pronunciation. This is followed by a directory of restaurants in Peru including addresses and telephone numbers.
Best of all, they’ve seen to it once you return home you don’t need to leave all Peruvian cooking behind. First, they supply ordering information for hard-to-find items, also some useful organizations. Then, best of all in Tastes of Peru, they’ve included 28 pages of recipes to continue the Peruvian experience. Here are a few examples:
Ceviche de Pescado (Spicy marinated fish): It calls for fresh tilapia, red onion, chile peppers, fresh lime juice and ice
Papas al al Huacaina (Potatoes in the style of Huancayo): Combine achiote seeds, vegetable oil, farmer’s cheese, chile peppers, evaporated milk, saltine crackers, lettuce, boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, black olives and boiled fresh corn
Ensalada Beiga de Endibia y Queso Roquefort (Belgian endive and Roquefort salad): olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, endive leaves, tomatoes, Roquefort cheese, sour cream, milk, walnuts and chives
Lenguado al Vapor en Salsa de Maracuya (steamed sole in passion fruit sauce): White wine, sugar, passion fruit juice, crema de leche, sole fillet, black sesame oil, garlic, raw shrimp and cooked rice
Tamalitos Verdes (Savory corn tamales with spinach): dried cornhusks, fresh spinach, butternut squash, red bell pepper, 2 chiles, scallions, garlic, evaporated milk, corn flour and lard
Tacu Tacu de Paliares en Salsa de Camarones (Bean and rice patty served with shrimp sauce): Canary beans, salt pork, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, chile paste, oregano, cooked rice, butter flour, white wine, paprika and cooked shrimp
Quinotto (Mixture of quinoa and vegetables): tomato, olive oil, basil, garlic, peas, carrots, bacon, onion, mushrooms, paprika, bacon fat, water, quinoa, white wine and heavy cream
Espesado de Vacuno (Beef ribs in a thick sauce with yuca and squash: Yuca, fresh corn, cilantro, water, beef short ribs, squash, scallion, red bell pepper, cooked rice and garnice of ceviche de pescado
Picarones, a dessert (Doughnot-like fried dough): Sweet potato, pumpkin, dry yeast, sugar, potato water, flour, salt, vegetable oil for deep-frying. For syrup, water, dark brown sugar, sugar cane, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and aniseeds
Peruvian food is exciting because they are not only famed for their potato history, but they have a knack for combining unexpected foods, by North American standards, and coming up with some very delicious, colorful results.