Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How's the food?

One of the most common questions people from back home seem to ask us is: "how's the food?" To which we all reply, "SO GOOD! You HAVE to try the bread here. It's amazing!"

I have to say, when I signed up for the trip, I was not expecting this to be the case. I even noted in my interview that one of the most challenging things here for me was going to be the food. I don't like vegetables or potatoes, staples in a Peruvian meal. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the delicious bread, cheap pastries, amazing amounts of caramel, juicy fruit, and the unusual but tasty types of meat.

So... what do I eat on a typical day? I wake up to a glass of freshly made fruit juice and a warm oatmeal-like drink awaiting me. I also eat some bread with "mermelada" (jelly) or "manjar" (caramel). Then when I get home from school, I eat lunch. Lunch here is the biggest meal of the day so it is a big deal to make it home for lunch, rather than just buying something in the street. My lunch begins with first plate, which is usually soup with noodles or creamed vegetables. After first plate, I have my second plate which usually consists of some type of meat, a variation of potatoes, and rice. I drink freshly made lemonade or chicha morada, which is a drink made out of purple corn. Sounds strange, right? However, it's actually really good! Finally, I finish my meal with fruit, usually a banana or apple, but sometimes I get to try something new. I end the day with my dinner of tea and more bread with "mermelada" or "manjar." Every family has their own variations of every meal, but the majority are very similar to my meals. The only big difference is that many families also eat a lot of yogurt, and my family does not.

So, earlier I mentioned that we have tried some "unusual but tasty types of meat". What exactly does that consist of? In our houses we commonly eat chicken, pork, or beef, just like at home. However, many of us have been daring and have tried some of the other popular types of meat here. For example, on our excursions, we love to eat alpaca meat. In the streets, they sell "anticuchos" which is a skewer of cow hearts. Finally, for a one-time experience, many of us have tried the delicacy of "cuy," or guinea pig. I have not been fortunate enough yet to partake of cuy, but I can guarantee you it is an experience I am not planning on missing before we leave.
Alpaca, rice, and potatoes

Finally, when we're having a bad day, or a good day, or have free time, or are bored, or come up with any sort of excuse, we LOVE to buy snacks, pastries, and ice cream. Although it is hard to find very rich chocolate or things made with peanut butter, there is no lack of caramel. Nearly every pastry here is a different variation of a desert with caramel. We have eaten unhealthy amounts of caramel. If you are lucky enough, maybe you can convince your loved one here to bring some back for you. We also eat a lot of ice cream. At McDonald's a large ice cream cone is only 2 soles (which right now is equivalent to 73 cents). As well, something well-known in Arequipa is "queso helado." This literally means "cheese ice cream," but I can guarantee you it tastes nothing like cheese. It simply shares it's color with cheese.

A pastry with caramel inside

Our favorite snack: pan y manjar (bread and carmel)

Basically, we are loving the food here. It is difficult not to constantly be snacking on something or another. However, we also miss the food in the United States and are excited to have rich chocolatey desserts, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and pizza with lots of sauce. All in all, the food was not something that I should have been worried about.

Some of the things here are just too strange to try...

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