This may sound funny considering I've lived in New York City for my entire adult life, and then some. International flavors are just a Seamless click away, and I'll shamelessly brag that New York has some of the most authentic-tasting ethnic flavors anywhere outside their original home.
But Peru is something else. They don't just embrace the cuisine of Chinese immigrants and build a little home for it in the shape of a Chinatown in Lima. They fully adopt the cuisine and make it family, christening it chifa because it is neither Chinese nor Peruvian, but both. Lomo saltado, a popular dish in Peru, demonstrates the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian tastes. The same with the cuisine of Japanese immigrants here. Out of the marriage of Japanese and Peruvian flavors comes Nikkei cuisine, and dishes like tiradito which are not quite ceviche, and not quite sushi. The list goes on.
Now, after that introduction, you might have guessed that we hit every Peruvian fusion restaurant we could find on our day of eating through Lima. Well, you'll see.
Stop 1: Coffee.
The only way to begin. We gleefully snubbed Starbucks on our way to get some local Peruvian roast.
I don't know how to explain the flavor, except that it's a sharper, nuttier taste than the Guatemalan we usually have in the mornings. But not as cigarette-ashy as Colombian or French roast.
Stop 2: Milkshakes.
What, milkshakes? Yes, milkshakes. A sweet, thick, creamy blend of milk with nothing else but ice and fruit. In particular, this fruit:
It's called lucuma, and it is delicious.
Stop 3: Fruit market.
The fruits! There are SO MANY of them!
What is it that my Taiwanese cousin says about America? That we only have apples and oranges? Well, there are more here.
My husband went a little crazy here and bought nearly one of every kind of fruit. Since I don't love fruit as much as he does, he had to eat them all by himself. This really did not phase him at all.
Stop 4: Pisco sours and ceviche
A classic meal. A Pisco sour can only properly be called a Pisco Sour if the pisco is from Peru, because "Pisco" is a geographical mark, much like Champagne. And in Peru, ceviche is eaten only at lunch, because by dinnertime the fish is no longer considered fresh. Yeah, my jaw dropped, too - that's definitely the way to live.
We got to prepare our own meals. Here's my husband making me a pisco sour, shaking up the pisco with lime juice, syrup, and egg whites. Add a few drops of bitters, and it's ready to go.
But. I mean. CEVICHE.
And, about the vegetarian thing? Nobody's perfect.
Stop 5: Huaca Pucllana
What better way to sum up the Peruvian experience than to dine by an Incan ruin?