EATING PETS IN SOUTH AMERICA!
My posts of late haven’t been that food orientated as I’m on a South American tour and have quite frankly been so busy doing incredible shit and fell the need to tell the world. And as you all are the closest thing I have to the world you all have copped it, but am a fair kinda guy… actually I’m more of a self centered prick, but who’s keeping score. So I felt I should share some of the culinary adventures we’ve been having as well as all of that fucking hiking and snorkeling blah blah holiday fun bollocks.
From the first day of this trip something that has been blatantly clear is that these peeps effing love meat and cheese, now I hear you all say “so fucking what, we all love that shit” firstly I’d appreciate less of that language, and secondly I didn’t say it was a bad thing so settle the fuck down.
Of course as with any new country/continent even the simple things are done differently it may be that for some reason they seem to respect the toilet so much that dirty paper isn’t allowed in it, no they prefer to keep a small lidless bin right in front of you keep the stink paper in all its brown glory. Each to your own I say and as my dad always said don’t knock it till you try it, now even though I’m pretty sure my dad was speaking about homosexuality its still relevant in any situation. So I have tried it and I’m just not sold on the whole concept, but to be honest I only remember 50% of the time.
I have digressed ever so slightly, back to the meat and cheese or carne and queso as we say here… the most common cheese used here is a kind of haloumi/feta/ricotta hybrid its semi soft white cheese and does melt a little when heated, but it doesn’t really pack a flavour punch. Besides that it is still cheese and any cheese is good in my book, not literally as that would ruin both the book and the cheese. The meat comes in many forms all of the usual suspects are here, but there are a few guest appearances along the way like Guinea pig, Llama and Alpaca… I have to admit all of these excited me more than a man should get excited about meat (but as my dad said…) but more about them in a minute.
Now you are all aware about the love affair that G-bags McFilthy Mouth and I have with Pork in all of its glorious guises, and seemingly we are not alone these guys are mad for the stuff. They even have a street in Cuzco (Peru) nicknamed Pork Street, so we of course went there and had a couple of belting pork dishes. Now keep in mind not all countries/chef’s create dishes in the same way and what might to the layman/simpleton look like half a dish or just a few ingredients whacked on a plate, is in fact exquisite cuisine. The first pork dish could have been mistaken for just that, it was crispy pork on giant white corn kernels, onion slices, fresh mint leaves, a wedge of lime and some green chilli sauce in the middle of the table. The pork was twice cooked, firstly I’m guessing in the oven until cooked and then it was cut into fuck off pieces, salted and deep fried… fuck yeah! It then sat in a warmer (by warmer I really mean glass box with no form of heating or cooling) but they knew what they where doing and we smashed it quick sharp and ordered a second round of the same dish, the best complement you can pay us chef’s.
The other dish we tried on Pork St was Adobe, which is a pork soup with one of the largest chilies I’ve ever seen floating in each serve. I stupidly thought it was a capsicum as the soup was ridiculously tasty but not spicy so I cut a sizable piece of supposed capsicum only to find it was not the hottest I’d ever had, but it was the quickest to bring heat to my mouth… holy Christ on a popsicle stick it was hot, but so effing tasty and it made the everything I ate for the next hour exponentially more delicious. Chilli can be a wicked vehicle for flavour, it doesn’t, as people think, destroy taste buds. I reckon it opens up another range of flavours that have previously laid dormant.
Now about that Guinea Pig or Cuy as it is called. It came out like a small crispy bear skin rug from in front a crackling fire place in a parallel universe where a fox may wear a jacket and smoke cigars whilst sipping whiskey on a leather chair adjacent to his crispy Guinea pig rug… wow I hope you have pictured that. Now back to reality, and reality was it didn’t taste that good at all. In fact it had a slight seafood taste about but I still persisted and ate my way through the whole creature I even sucked out his eyes and ate them, his cheeks and ears where by far the tastiest bits, his eyes however were as to be expected… horrid.
Alpaca on the other hand is a very fine meat me thinks. I have had in a quesadilla, made into burgers and as a steak all were very acceptable and the burger was divine, it’s a little stronger in flavour than beef but not gamey at all. And the Llama steak I had last night with Roquefort sauce was rib ticklingly superb, but Roquefort sauce does have a tendency to make me happy. But sauce aside the meat was tender and soft in flavour and would lend itself to many styles of cookery.
Ceviche is also very prevalent on the continent, they have it many forms and although I find most of it a little over done, they do rock the textural approach. By this I mean they use some cool crunchy components which I reckon ceviche is crying out for… they use crispy corn kernels, plantain chips and an awesome tahini sauce to lift their almost soup like version of this citrus cooked seafood and chicken.
Bananas are a contentious point with me, I have come to love eating a good banana although I lean towards breaking pieces off as not to deep throat the penis of the fruit world… but that aside they have many varieties here, some for boiling, some for roasting, deep frying and some for simply scaring us gringo’s. Seriously a banana came out on a plate the other night and I thought it was sausage, I was not impressed to find out it wasn’t. What’s my point, I hear you ask. Well I think bananas should be used for eating fresh, possible in a bread or dessert and at a push coated in coconut and served with curry… that’s it!
As for my newfound love for food carts and stalls, I really am head over heels in love with these mobile bringers of deliciousness. You can get everything from freshly squeezed juice to hot chips, roast chicken dinners, hamburgers, pastries filled with chicken, beef or corn… I kid you not, there isn’t anything they don’t try to sell from these mobile miracles of the culinary world. I have seen a crackle stand, yes a stand that just sells pork crackle, some shards as big as my arm. If its ceviche you want then bam you’ve got it, shaved ice, ice-creams, soups, buckets of weird looking congealed something… yes they have it all and for such a small cost it isn’t even worth trying to work out that cost in dollars. Yesterday we all sat in a hole-in-the-wall café like thing and without realizing it we had said yes to a set menu of soup, crispy chicken, banana & chips (KFC ain’t got nothing on this lady) and a jelly dessert all for 78 boliviano’s including a big bottle of soft drink… this equals to about $17 for the four of us, absolutely mental and delicious.
We are going to go for a special dinner tomorrow night at a place called Gustu here in La Paz, its run by some chefs from Noma and is pushing the same culinary formula that has put Noma on the world wide foodies map. They use only local ingredients and stay true to indigenous believes and practices. I think we will be in for a treat as Bolivia has some incredible food, I can’t wait to see what Gustu do with their produce… I do know they have a bacon and onion cocktail to help wash all that goodness down. Every meal on this trip excites me, but I’m extra special excited about this one.
I will leave you now and get ready to go to a local steak house that cooks all the local goodness on a massive wood fueled char grill. Have I mentioned how much I love this place?