Thursday, October 05, 2006

We´re Eating WHAT???

Peruvian food varies greatly from one region to another. This isn´t surprising since Peru has more biodiversity than any other country in the world. Of the 104 different types of ¨life zones¨ that exist on Earth, 84 are found in Peru. Generally, on the coast you encounter more food containing fish, in the mountains more potatoes, lamb and pork, and in the jungle more fruit and vegetables. Very little of the food is spicy, but a hot pepper sauce is often offered ¨on the side¨.

One of the striking things about Peruvian food is the extensive use of organ meats. They don´t let anything go to waste here! So far I´ve tasted the following body parts in one or more forms: beef heart, lung and stomach, lamb testicle, chicken gizzard and fish head. I´ve also seen sheep heads and chicken feet for sale in the market, but haven´t yet had the pleasure of tasting any preparations that use them.

I really like the heart, which is served shish kebab style and called anticucho. I´d have to say the lung was my least favorite. It´s really hard to chew, so you pretty much have to swallow it as it is. (Fortunately they cut it in tiny pieces). The testicle wasn´t bad -- until they told me what it was!

So what is that stuff in the picture above that vaguely resembles meat? It´s a dish that you can find being prepared over a grill on just about any street corner on a weekend night, called combinado - a combination of chicken gizzards and cow stomachs, with lots of seasoning, served over boiled potatoes. The stomach is really quite tasty and tender!

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