Cebiche, Phalluses, Spanish Dim Sum, and Cuy

Ancient native pottery

Guest post by Alex

Traveling with someone that not only has a deeply engrained passion for food, but is also a professional pastry chef has its amazing benefits. First off, I usually pack some type of food when taking a flight that lasts for more than a few hours. Most American airlines have since discarded meal services on domestic flights, however Aeromexico still serves the prototypical cardboard airline food. Luckily Jessica had mentioned that she would be happy to bake a fresh baquet (or two…) for the flights. Yes! Now we had delicious homemade ham and cheese along with prosciutto and butter sandwiches to enjoy on our flights between LAX, Mexico City, and Lima.

Cebiche mixto – La Mar

Secondly, while I was preparing for and taking my three finals the week before we were to leave for Peru Jessica was doing some in depth research as to how to avoid tourist trap restaurants and where the best local places were to eat. So, naturally, the first day we had in Lima began was us making our way to La Mar, which is reported to be one of the best cevicherias in Lima. It also has a branch in San Francisco that both Jessica and I have been to with our families. Only open for lunch since (historically) the fish wouldn’t be fresh for dinner we had a long, leisurely lunch complete with some local specialties that Jessica will be able to tell you about. After eating way too much we decided a late and light dinner at Malabar was a good idea. Jessica (and secretly me) had been pretty adamant about not wanting to try cuy (guinea pig) even though it is a Peruvian specialty. I think both of us pictured a guinea pig that was skewered length-wise, roasted on a spit, and handed to you. Um, yum? However, given that Malabar is one of Lima’s most upscale restaurants and was known to have some of the best cuy we decided to give it a try. It came out in probably the best form for a first timer: slow cooked and shredded – quite good.

Causa (sweet potato, crab, tuna, aji) – La Mar

The next day (and our last in the city before the program starts) we set out to the Museo Larco (recommended by the NYT), which is known to have an excellent collection of ancient native erotic pottery. Sold! Seriously, they weren’t kidding when they said erotic. I don’t think we ever realized how explicit an ancient culture could be. Anyway, the museum was in the historic district of Lima, which happens to be next to China town. Lima is actually known partially for their Chinese and Chinese fusion food so we headed toward a local dim sum spot. Normally in the US I can get by a dim sum places since they have the phonetic spelling of the Chinese characters for the dish, which I can recognize. However, at this place in Lima they only had the characters and then some spanish, leading to some confusion and slight random ordering, but an overall successful meal.

Plaza Mayor – Historico Centro, Lima

Learned so far: Lima is NOT a pedestrian city, horns/high beam are necessities for navigating the streets, and it takes some time getting used to negotiating fairs for taxi rides (which, by the way, seem dirt cheap compared to NYC – a $2-5 cab ride here is ~$20-40 ride).


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