One Year. One Physical Therapist in Trujillo, Peru.

Combining passions of global public health with travel and cultural immersion... With the help of the Catholic Medical Mission Board, I was afforded the opportunity to live outside of Trujillo, Peru for one year's time (2010-2011). Check out old posts about my experiences as a PT working in hospitals, a school, an outpatient clinic, doing research/community based rehabilitation, and a little teaching too. And my experiences with an entire calendar year of holidays, cultural customs and new culinary experiences!

I make it back about once a year with university students/CMMB projects, so I will periodically provide updates :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feet, intestines and heart, oh my!

Since my first posting on the food here, I’ve had a number of different new culinary experiences to share. First of all,
Peruana Cosita Importante #7: When in doubt, always ask. (Especially when it comes to food). 

Every week, Monday-Friday, I have lunch with the nuns who live in the convent next to the clinic, who happen to have their own personal chef, Isabel. The typical menu includes some sort of chicken broth soup, and a rice dish with meat or vegetable atop. My first day in Peru, I lifted the soup ladle to find a large white bumpy mass with several stubs- yep, an entire intact chicken foot (a delicacy here). I’ve been able to dodge the bullet in regards to animal feet by selectively serving myself soup, but haven’t been quite as lucky in other areas. The other day I arrived at lunch late to find a plate with my name on it. I was starving and began eating without a thorough look-over. Mushroom stir-fry, I thought. But wow, I’d never quite had anything quite like it, and not necessarily in a good way. Mid-last-bite, one of the nuns walked in the room and asked me how I liked the chicken heart/intestines. Just another day in the life…

But, chicken internal organs aside, I’m really enjoying the food here. Here’s a small listing of some of the highlights:

-Anticuchos → cow heart, marinated and cooked on skewers- fantastic!
-Lomo saltado → beef marinated and served with onions, peppers and rice on a bed of French fries. (see picture)

-Las Frutas → I never realized how much fruit I was missing in my life! Peru boasts a number of unique, colorful fruits. “Tuna” is one of my favorites- spiny on the outside, red and soft in the inside, a cross between the flavor of a pomegranate and raspberry.
-Arroz con leche → Classic dessert of rice, milk, cinnamon, vanilla.
-Cerveza con gaseosa → beer mixed with Coke, sometimes Inca Cola… interesting combination!
-Pescado → This area of Peru is known for it’s fish, and I’ve tried a number of different types of white fish- all fantastic. Below, the “pescado frito” dish that a friend ordered.

My family’s been teaching me how to make some of the local cuisine/beverages:

-Chicho Morado → a delicious purple drink made from maize morado (purple corn) and flavored with cinnamon, lime and pineapple.

-Croquettes de Atún → mixture of tuna fish, onions, tomatoes, egg, flour and spices, served fried.
-Tortillas → Nothing like the Mexican version! We made them with a mixture of broccoli, spices (the Aji here is amazing), shredded chicken, potatoes, butter, milk, and egg, also served fried.
-Mazamorra Morada → a thick jelly-consistency dessert also made from maize morado and mixed with various fruits.
-Marciano → a cross between ice cream and shaved ice, this simple dessert involves mixing mashed fruit such as the lúcuma with milk and sugar and letting it sit in the freezer.

Of course, I’ve also dazzled them with my cooking skills. (HA. HA.) My family’s requested a random assortment of “American food” dishes. So far I’ve introduced them to…

-Lasagna and garlic bread
-Banana Bread
-Macaroni and Cheese
-Peanut butter
-Cous cous
-Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Whenever La Gringa cooks, it somehow turns into a small family reunion. Word travels fast here, especially when all of the extended family live within a two block radius! I’ve begin to double and triple recipes in anticipation ☺

Food is also a common gift brought to the PT clinic. My favorite surprise was a plastic bag full of choclo, ready to eat, from one patient. Choclo is a large type of white corn here that is absolutely amazing (I’m already plotting ways to get mass amounts past customs when I leave.)

But, I think that my favorite aspect of the food here is more of how it’s a centerpiece of family and culture. Every day families come home for a large two-hour (or so) lunch together. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day quantity-wise, as it’s common to skip dinner or have a light “sena” of bread and tea. And no frantic rushing out the door, or scarfing down a sandwich while doing paperwork at lunch - it’s very relaxing. I think we could all use a little more time mid-day to slow down. Think a siesta lunchtime will ever catch on in the US?

1 comment:

  1. Amber!!!

    i LOVE reading about all of these amazing adventures you have been having and ESP loved this one! you are such a great sport with all of this new food and i would have FREAKED when i found what i had just eaten...

    i remember when we were traveling france ash and i ate at some african place and it was SO GROSS and weird and we had no clue what we were eating so we went to mcdonalds!

    miss you girl and hope you continue to have a BLAST!