Monday, 15 February 2010

More South American Cuisine

While much of the food in Ecuador and Peru is typical 'peasantry' cuisine - cheap cuts, lots of rice and potato - there were some fantastic dishes to be had, and as we headed inland and into Peru, llama and goat were common on menus. Llama is eaten in a wide variety of ways, from steaks to stews to kebabs. It's a very good and versatile meat, not entirely unlike lamb, and it's the cheapest meat in most parts of Peru, at least outside of the tourist restaurants!

In Southern Ecuador, I again tried Guinea Pig, although this was at a ranch in the middle of nowhere. The farmer, who breeds Guinea Pigs for food, slaughtered one for us and after preparing it with lots of cumin, chilli, garlic and ground coriander, his wife cooked it on a heated stone. It tasted much, much better than the one I'd tried in a restaurant in Quito, although I still found there to be very little meat on it.

Near Cuenca, the richest city in Ecuador, a group of us went walking through the Cajas National Park, home to wild llamas and alpacas, as well as lakes teeming with Rainbow Trout (brought here by European settlers). For lunch we stopped at a small roadside restaurant where the guide recommended we have the trout, since it was not only as fresh as you can get, but it was also a pest so we'd be helping the environment - I wasn't about to refuse! The fish was simply delicious, despite having been deep fried, and came accompanied by a typical Ecuadorean salad with lots of chilli and lime, and rice.Obviously, presentation wasn't really that much of a big deal in restaurants here, but I think it really added to the rustic charm; it felt like you were eating like a local, not like a tourist where everything is exaggerated to seem "traditional".

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