Erotic pottery, Historic Center of Lima & Chinese-Peruvian Food

It must be the closet anthropologist in me, but I always relish in learning more about the culture of a new country/culture. I guess all those museum excursions which I partook when I was a child has finally become habitual. I woke up to (yet another) warm but cloudy day in Lima with plentiful birds cawing (or singing?). One thing I grew to learn about Lima is that it’s never quiet – if not for the birds communicating, there’s always Spanish being spoken either at home or in the streets, cars and buses with their horns blaring, or school children singing in a nearby school.

I greatly anticipated visiting Museo Larco as I had heard much of it and all the artifacts it housed. It is a private museum featuring pre-Columbian artwork; I was especially impressed at the plethora of vividly colorful flowers growing wildly across the walls of the museum. It made for some beautiful photos indeed.

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Outside Museo Larco, before commencing our day-long cultural excursion

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Loved these ruby red blossoms outside the museum
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Fuchsia, ruby and violet blossoms oh my!
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At the lower level of Museo Larco
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Wonderful seeing such beautiful blossoms after having some from a cold, fall season in Seattle

The museum gave me valuable insight into Peru’s cultural history, namely the ethnic groups that lived in the country’s arid lands prior to Incan invasion, after which Spanish invasion led to a cultural melting pot whereby natives attempted to infuse their own religious beliefs with the Catholicism that was forced upon them post-Spanish invasion. The importance of ritual sacrifices for rain/bountiful harvest, the significance of gold and silver and the cultural developments that followed political upheavals and power struggles gave me better insight into the history of Peru. Learning all this with historic visuals at a museum was by far much more scintillating than anything I could have gotten from reading a book.

Of course I could not leave this museum without visiting one of the most notable aspects of Museo Larco – its dedicated area on erotic pottery. It’s quizzical as to how such pottery used to be displayed (prominently on a dining room table? In the bedroom?) or for whom, but I thoroughly enjoyed this particular area. You don’t often come across such a thing too frequently in museums!

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Some of the erotic pottery featured humans, animals, a mix and even humans with figures from the “underworld” (Death). Goes to show that when it comes to sex, people sure were curious even thousands of years ago!

After we explored Museo Larco to its fullest, it was time to take a drive and explore the Historic Center of Lima. We arrived at Plaza Mayor which is a large plaza surrounded by three very important buildings: the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima and the Municipal Palace.

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View of the outside of the Government Palace – unfortunately we got here past noon so we missed the changing of the guard.
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Plaza Mayor – there was a lot of police on this particular day, I was told they were anticipating a public rally/demonstration.

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Believe this was the Municipal Palace – dark wooden balconies, such as the ones in this picture, were all the rage back when buildings in the Center of Lima were being constructed and was fashionable at the time.

I was also told that this region of the Center of Lima was once quite a prominent neighborhood though it has since passed its hey day as the other buildings and establishments that were several streets away from Plaza Mayor looked to be in need of repairs and recovery.

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More wooden balconies in the Center of Lima

At this point we found Casa de Aliaga, another place I highly anticipated visiting but I was so famished and tired that I decided to pass up what would inevitably another hour-long tour. This home is famed for belonging to Captain Aliaga back in the 16th century and is still the family home of the Aliagas. I will definitely have to return here some day as the pictures I’ve seen of it look opulent and elegant even by 21st century standards. Imagine how it must’ve been to live there back in the 16th century!

Alas, since we passed up touring Casa de Aliaga, we took a walk to Plaza San Martin. I can’t recall what historic important this plaza has aside from the fact that it is now used as a meeting spot for the citizens of Lima. Oh, and that it has a cafe nearby that serves a very traditional snack, the turron.

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At the Plaza San Martin
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Details of the main sculpture at Plaza San Martin
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A traditional turron: apparently it’s made with lard, sugar, flour, milk and anise (you definitely taste this) and it’s rolled up into long pieces before being baked. A syrup that’s as sticky, sweet and thick as molasses is on top along with colorful pieces of sprinkles of varying shapes and persuasion.

If you’re a sweet-lover, I came across this recipe which actually makes the turron look quite feasible. I only indulged in a few bites of crumbly, sticky anise-flavored turron as we headed over several more blocks to Lima’s Chinatown.

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Oh-so familiar entrance to every Chinatown in the world.

We headed to my fiancé’s favorite restaurant in Chinatown, Salon Capon to recuperate from a long day of sightseeing and walking.

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Started off with appetizers of fried wonton
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Quickly moved onto ordering a wonton soup and shrimp & pork shumai
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Couldn’t leave without trying their fried rice dish and a beef with mixed veggies dish

There were only subtle differences in the flavor of the food here compared to the Chinese food I’ve had in Chinatowns in the US. I loved the beef & vegetable dish as well as the stir-fried rice dish, perhaps because it was surprisingly not that heavy and the flavors still incorporate Asian sauces to which I’m so accustomed to and on which I grew up eating. Fried rice is my vice.. all Asian eateries make it so that it’s just buttery-enough with rice that is perfectly dry so that finishing an entire dish is no hassle for one adult alone!

It was a thorough day of touring Lima – I was pooped by the time I returned home and assisted the fiancé with making Vietnamese spring rolls (which I believe was the first time my future in-laws’ family ever tasted these). The ribs, which had been slow-cooking all day in a Korean BBQ marinade we brought back from the US, were also ready to be devoured by dinner. All in all a successful day for the senses 🙂

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Vietnamese spring rolls with homemade peanut sauce & succulent ribs marinated in Korean BBQ sauce. Still surprised at how delicious the ribs were in the Korean BBQ sauce!
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