The main reason we came to Arequipa was for the food, typical comida Arequipeña such as ‘rocoto relleno’, ‘chupe de camarones’, ‘chicharrones’ and more. We had never considered ourselves foodies in the slightest bit before we got to Peru. Never before being obsessed with food, I think being away from good food for months in Colombia and Ecuador finally took its toll.
We met our host in Lima, Ana, when we were volunteering in Banos, Ecuador.
When we finally were making our way to Lima and making plans to meet up with her, we told her that there are 2 things we’d like to do in the 2 days we’re in Lima:
1. See the ‘erotic pottery’ exhibition in Museo Larco
2. Eat yummy Peruvian food
And boy, like an awesome host that she is, she fulfilled both of our wishes.
Remember that day in Trujillo when we ate nothing but American chain food?
Well, it didn’t take for the guilt to sink in and we decided to make it up for our remaining 2 days in Trujillo. Well, the guilt and the price tag, really. Pizza Hut was expensive.
Everyone that we’ve met unequivocally said that Peru has the best food in the whole continent.
Well, we’re going to judge it for ourselves. We’re skipping Trujillo’s more known comida tipica: cabrito, lomo saltado, and other local delicacies and sticking to sea food, taking advantage of the fact that Trujillo is located on the coast.
Come with us on a 2 day tour of Peruvian food!
We found ourselves in Huaychao, a coastal village 30 min away from Trujillo. And there we had our first encounter with ceviche.
Ceviche – First encounter
I’m not a big fan of raw fish. I’m one of those people who go to the sushi restaurant and order exclusively from the fried/cooked roll sections.
So ceviche presents an interesting dilemma: it’s cooked. But not with fire. Does it count?
Regardless I decided that going to Peru without trying ceviche at least once would be a blasphemy.
When it came, my heart sank.
It looks worse than I imagined. It jiggles when I tried to spear a piece with my forks.
Jack was looking at me expectantly, camera handy. ‘Go on – you ordered it’.
I took a deep breath, ‘Ugh, whatever…Here’s one for the road’
I put a liveless, cold piece of mystery fish in my mouth and swallowed.
First impression: it was sour. Then: a little chewy, it was not so bad.
I doubt that I’d be craving it anytime soon, but I did finish the plate. But I was glad to have Jack’s chicharron de pescado (fish nuggets) as a chaser.
Chicharron de Pescado
Fried fish nuggets. They taste as good as they sound.
Then as a second chaser, this is what I ordered:
Pescado de Ajo
Now this – this is how I like my seafood: HOT (just how I like my men 🙂 ). Fried fish covered with garlic sauce, shrimps, and odds and ends of other seafood.
It was good, but a dish with garlic in the name I expected it to be a lot more garlicky.
Despite the huge lunch, we wanted more. So we walked for a couple of blocks, and ducked in into another restaurant. This time we ordered the calamari.
Calamari – Deep Fried
The aji that it came with was bomb. It was so hot.
“Senora, una Custeña negra, por favor” we managed to choke out with our burning tounge.
We were invited by our Couchsurfing host to a cevicheria. “Best ceviche! Lots of people come”
And it was true. The place was packed.
Not tempted in the slightest bit, I stayed away from the ceviche section and ordered something I knew was going to be hot.
Palahuela – Quickly a favorite
Palahuela or seafood stew is my kind of seafood: thick, filled with chunky pieces of seafood. It was delicious! It’s even better than the Pescado de Aji.
I can eat this every day. And for $4 a plate, I might actually be able to afford it.
Leche de Tigre
Or tiger’s milk. It’s basically a soup served in a cocktail glass made out of ceviche juice. It’s white and it has floaty stuff in it. It tastes strongly of lemon/lime.
And it’s cold.
Despite how it looks (only slightly better than the ceviche itself). It actually goes very well with ‘maize’ or toasted corns.
More fried stuff…
Jack decided that he hadn’t had enough fried stuff and ordered another plate of chicharron de pescado. I envy his metabolism that seems to be able to handle as much fried food as he wants.
Wha? Chinese food?
Unfortunately we had to end our gastronomy trip in Trujillo on a downward turn, in a chifa – a Chinese restaurant. The cevicheria we wanted to go to was closed for a private event.
There are so many of these ‘chifas’ in Peru serving huge plates of what you’d expect out of a Chinese restaurant – rice or noodles – but with a Peruvian twist.
Which I think simply means a blander version of Chinese food.
In the end…
Trujillo gave us 101 lesson on Peruvian seafood and it whetted our appetite for more.
As a matter of fact, the only reason we’re going to Arequipa next is to check out its supposedly varied and unique twist on Peruvian food. Yumm, can’t wait! Sorry, Colca Canyon – no offense.
The owner of the cevicheria that was closed for a private event promised us free ceviche if we ever come back. But the question is…
Would we try ceviche again?
Absolutely. As one reader suggests on our FB page, eating it with rice/chufa as chaser will help soften the acid of the lime juice.
But Peru does seem to have a lot of options when it comes to food – I’m afraid it will be awhile until I order one again.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador
Finding a budget place to eat in Galapagos, especially if you’ve given up on cooking in hostels, was tough.
Still reeling from the price tags of the waterfront restaurants of Puerto Ayora, we stumbled across this eating place on a street called Charles Binford, 3 blocks inland.
Sharing the cramped eating space with a group of local cops and taxi drivers confirmed what our $5 lunch bill told us: This street, is the place to eat on a budget in downtown Puerto Ayora.
We ate here for almost all of our meals.
Give the local’s favorite, encocado de pescado (fish in coconut curry) a try. For $6, it’s not cheap by the mainland standard, but compared to everything else in Puerto Ayora, it’s a steal.
And it’s delicious.
Then again, coconut milk makes everything delicious.
Of the many restaurants there, one stood out
Our favorite restaurant is this gem called K.F. Williams.
Remember the restaurant with an identity crisis in Cartagena? Well, we might’ve found one that tops that. Check this out: the owner has murals of himself painted on the walls of the restaurant.
Not only that, when I asked for a menu, the girl pointed to the wall behind me.
He’s got the menu painted, PAINTED, on the wall of the restaurant, complete with prices. Not painted on a board that hung on a wall, but actually on the wall itself.
I imagine they probably don’t change the menu and the prices too often there.
And who do you think prepared encocado de pescado? Nobody but William himself. We recognized him right away (how could we not?). And of course we had to drag him out of his busy kitchen to take pictures.
Is it just us or is the whole thing just simply hilarious? Not to mention a great marketing stint? We can’t seem to get over it.
My Indonesian parents’ biggest fear is to have guests leave the house hungry and they were concerned that Jack wouldn’t be able to find anything to eat during his first visit to Indonesia. What if he can’t eat rice everyday? What if everything is too spicy for him?