Arriving in the land of Incas & Pisco

Snow-capped mountain peaks in Washington state. Bidding farewell to the US!

I could feel it in air amidst the pitch-black midnight sky – a distinct warmth that signaled it was springtime in the Southern Hemisphere. We landed in the Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez after midnight and hopped in a cab that took us to my future in-laws’ family home. Drained from the 18-hours of travel time it took us to get to Lima, we squeezed in some shut-eye before commencing a mellow first day in this city.

It was my first time in Peru so needless to say, I was antsy for touristy explorations and to capture everything in pictures so as to inevitably reminisce during quieter days back home. Our first day was actually my future father-in-law’s birthday so we took the opportunity to: a) convert USD to soles (conversion rate was roughly 3 soles per 1 USD) and b) peruse the local market for fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. While the market was nothing glamorous, it was incredibly cheap compared to the price of produce in the US. You could get something like 1 kg of berries for 10 soles here… that’s like 2.2 lbs for $3.33! A STEAL.

An enviable bounty of fresh fruit – the in-season mangoes and figs were so mouthwateringly sweet and delicious, I miss it already.

We began preparing the afternoon by preparing the evening’s dinner – two types of homemade fettuccine (spinach and squid ink) as well as a chorizo and pepper bake. Luckily the men took care of kneading pasta dough as the one time I was responsible for that duty, my hands ended up aching for days afterward. My fiancé is a meat-lover so needless to say he was the ultimate mastermind behind the chorizo dish.

Using a handy-dandy pasta machine to thin the dough & cut it into fettuccine slices.
This mélange of peppers and pork & beef chorizo would end up being cooked in the oven for a decadently long time.

Dinner was a rather Italian affair with copious bottles of red wine flowing throughout the entire event and

Salad, homemade pasta, a chorizo bake and caprese salad – could it get anymore Italian than this?
A delicious chocolate cake with lucuma filling. Lucuma is a fruit native to Peru and while I’ve never had the actual fruit (always just in ice cream or cake form), it’s flavor has similarities to a sweet potato and is not too sweet. Very complicated to try to compare it to a fruit I’ve tried!

Not surprisingly we passed out that evening from blissful food-coma, just how every day of vacation should end.

I hadn’t braced myself for yet another day of culinary experiences. Boy was I in for a treat. It was time to visit my future in-laws’ grandparents home for lunch; the fiancé and I stopped by an artisanal ice cream store to pick up dessert to bring for a post-lunch snack.

The ice cream here tasted more like a rich gelato than ice cream I’ve had in the US – I personally loved the coconut, manjar blanco (which is basically dulce de leche) and mango flavors the most. A 1 kg (2.2 lb) container of ice cream was roughly 30 soles ($10).
View of the neighborhood from the rooftop of the grandparents’ home – I would continue to witness these warm but cloudy, grey skies of Lima!
Was enthralled to get the chance to try coca tea for the first time – took some tea bags with me and loved the slightly nutty and sweet warmth of this tea.
Grandmother’s homemade ceviche along with fried corn bits and plantain chips and requisite rosé. I’ve been told this style of ceviche is from northern Peru – personally it was my favorite type of ceviche I’ve had in Lima. The thinly-sliced red onions that, along with pieces of fresh white fish, had been marinated in fresh lime juice was quite possibly the best seafood dish I’ve had in awhile. And Peruvian corn kernels are gigantic compared to the corn kernels I’m accustomed to in the US.

After a hearty amount of ceviche to start, we further indulged in carbs with arroz con pollo (Spanish for ‘chicken with rice’) and papa a la huancaina (Spanish for ‘potatoes in huancaina sauce’). I particularly enjoyed the boiled yellow potatoes as it was less starchier than potatoes in North America and the huancaina sauce – which I can only describe as a slightly spicy but cheesy sauce, decidedly a comfort food – was unlike anything I’ve had. Not a big fan of cheese in general but I finished this sauce clean.

This was my first time indulging in a Spanish grandmother’s homemade food and I learned a lesson: to pace myself with portion sizes as there would always be more to consume and leftovers would be expected to be taken home, without question. As I have no knowledge of Spanish, I was unfortunately unable to communicate with my fiancé’s grandparents however we left their home with our hearts and stomachs full and eager to explore more of the cultural and culinary aspects of Peru.


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