I didn't really understand why until I got here. In a survey, Peruvians were asked why they were proud of their country. Top answers? Machu Picchu.....and Peruvian food!
Thus, it was only right that el senor Raul, a proud native of Arequipa, the city famous for its regional dishes such as rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper) and cuy chactado (deep-fried guinea pig), made sure we got to the local food festival yesterday.
I didn't understand why they held the festival at Yanahuara's (pronounced jon-a-wara) plaza, all the way across the river and up the hill from downtown. But once I got there I understood. Look at this view of the city:
The plaza and the surrounding cobblestone streets maintain their colonial flavor, even after hundreds of years and a few devastating earthquakes.
The festival itself was incredible too, better organized and better priced than many I've seen in the States. A dozen local restaurants and cooking schools had booths, in addition to the various beer, pisco (Peru's rum-like liquor) and wine stands.
I was hot and sweaty from walking around in the desert sun, so I picked a local beer and a light ceviche (chopped raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice and spiced with the local hot pepper, rocoto):
El senor Raul ate mashed potatoes and alpaca filet, which Sergio thinks is going to be the centerpiece of the next diet fad. I guess the animal's meat has little to no cholesterol. Time to start my alpaca ranch, you know, get ahead of the curve!
Sergio ordered a seafish combo of sorts, with crab, shrimp and other boiled sea creatures included. He liked it, and liked my ceviche so much that he ordered one of his own. He's always happy eating, as you can tell in this picture:
If I had food this good, I think I would be proud too! In trying to include me, el senor Raul asked me what American food I liked. I couldn't think of one single American food that didn't come from somewhere else. Hot dogs?