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"Diet sensibility-wise I find myself straddled several yards short of the spooky Eat Nourish Glow brigade ... yet far from a woman who eats a double-stack patty with onion rings dipped in chipotle mayonnaise at lunchtime guilt-free. Although, if I’m honest, I can, and have done, and several photos of me exist on the internet standing at parties with my arms around gaunt, size 6 showbiz chums resembling, in relative terms, an amiable Tyrannosaurus rex that has entered a toddler’s sandpit."

Grace Dent

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Tuesday
Oct042011

Cocina novoandina por Gastón Asturio

"Dilema del cocinero: El poeta triste, escribe poemas y te hace llorar. El pintor triste pinta cuadros y te logra emocionar. El musico triste compone canciones y te hace cantar. Al cocinero triste, le está prohibido cocinar."

Cooks dilemma: the sad poet writes poems and makes you cry. The sad painter paints pictures and moves you emotionally. The sad musician composes songs and makes you sing. The cook is sad, he is forbidden to cook.

Words of wisdom from Gastón Acurio, celebrity chef and ambassador of Peruvian cuisine. He may even be South America’s most famous chef, and thankfully for us, he is not often sad. God forbid this man be banished from the kitchen.

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Saturday
Sep242011

Cusco, a westerner's paradise

After four days of humble, homely and, yes, rather bland cooking on Lake Titicaca I was very excited about my arrival in Cusco. With several recommendations from a fellow foodie friend in my pocket I was ready to be a bad tourist once again and embrace all the western cuisine the city had to offer.

First stop: Jack’s Café. This was no.1 on Emma’s list for exactly the same reason it's no.1 on mine; sometimes when you have been on the road for a long time you just want something that reminds you of home. When you are done with llama and alpaca steaks, deep-fried everything and more rice and potatoes than you can shake a fork at, coming across great coffee, an all day breakfast menu and café food to rival Sydney and Melbourne can be a truly restorative experience.

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Thursday
Sep152011

Humble, homely food on Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca’s islands are world famous for their peaceful beauty and well-preserved traditional agrarian cultures, which you can see up close by staying with families on the islands. A homestay here is a privileged glimpse at another way of life that you’re unlikely to forget.

Lonely Planet, Peru, 2010

Most people who visit the Lake Titicaca islands do so through an organised tour booked from one of the many travel agencies lining the streets of Puno. This usually includes a trip to the famous floating islands constructed of rotting reeds, Isla Taquile with their socially symbolic fluffy hats and Isla Amantani with their penchant for rousing traditional dancing and drunken revelry. Unfortunately, the islanders themselves benefit very little from such tours.

Tour agencies pay host families a set amount per visitor, which is negotiated with islanders separately by each agency. Nearly all of the cheapest agencies (and some of the expensive ones, too) pay little more than the cost visitors’ meals.

The Lonely Planet goes onto suggest various things you can do to ensure that the families get the most out of your stay, one of which is to consider visiting some of the communities on the peninsula around the lake which are less frequented by tourists but offer the same sort of activities and equally spectacular scenery. 

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Friday
Sep022011

First meal in Peru

I had been told not to expect much from Puno. My friend BB described it as “a sort of Costa del Sol for people who don’t have access to the sea”. The only reason most people visit Puno is get to the Lake Titicaca islands, myself included. I wasn’t expecting there to be much of interest to see, let alone eat.

Well I have been in Peru for 3 weeks now (I know I have been bad at keeping up like I said I would but there has been so much to see and do) and, surprising as it is, my first meal in Puno was among the top three. And all the more pleasant for being completely unexpected.

I was actually in search of another cevicheria written up in the Lonely Planet which it turned out had closed 3 years earlier (yes, mine is the latest edition!). So I asked for a recommendation and was pointed in the direction of El Erizo.

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Tuesday
Aug232011

Worst of Bolivia

I was quite surprised when I came to narrowing down the best and worst of Bolivia that I actually had more best ofs than worst ofs. This is partly because I am more lenient in the best of category – something has to be really bad to make it to the worst of list – but I think what it really highlights is that the food in Bolivia is not terrible, it is just not terribly exciting.

Many of the meals that didn’t make it to these two posts were perfectly pleasant, but incredibly plain; think unseasoned potatoes, boiled rice, undressed salads, flavourless meats. I have left out the bland and mediocre and narrowed the worst down to ten. Here goes…

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