Its in every country in South America, every street, every corner and every shop. Even the old ladies are selling alfajores on the street. In million different types.
It is a biscuit sandwich. Two “shortbreadkind” of pastry disc sticked together with any kind of sticky stuffing.
Its usually dulce de leche but can be mousse of fruites or cream of chocolate. After it can be covered with anything (usually chocolate) but the original version is just covered with icing sugar. As smaller as better and the very best ones are homemade and only can be found in tiny stores wrapped in paper by hand (Chile). The peruvian version is big like hamburger and comes with a tiny layer of caramel in the middle which makes it inedibly dry.
DULCE DE LECHE (MANJAR)
Well… this thing is worth a whole book. Basically in South America there are no sweet desserts available (except Peru) but exoctic fruits and DULCE DE LECHE.
Lets see what is this… hard to imagine that someone does not know – but the easy description would be: like a creamy caramel (hungarian version would be the “tejkaramella”. Originally its milk with sugar what u start to heat up very slowly. After a while the milk will transform because of 2 common browning reaction: one is the caramelization (between sugar and heat) and the other is the Malliard reaction (between sugar and amino acids).
The result is going to be thick and smoothy texture with beautiful medium brown color. But this is changing from country to country, while dulce de leche in Chile was more like a jelly with less sugar – in Argentina was coming with more than 50% of sugar but runny texture. I think (we can agree with Gabor :) the best one was in Bolivia, with less sweetness but supersmooth spreadable texture. U buy a bag or cup of this and u have no problem with your sugar-level for a week. One spoon is more than enough even if u like sweet very much (for Gigi the idea of a spoonful was already more then enough :)) hehe
They use it for alfajores, icecreams, pancakes… the most famous dessert is the “suspiro a la limena” (women·s sigh from Lima)
National drink of Peru and Chile. It was developed by Spanish settlers who were missing their pomace brandy from homeland… so they started to distill grape wine into a high-proof spirit: this is how PISCO born.
Currently Peru exports 3 times more pisco then Chile and won several competitions – there are different rules and regulations exist in this 2 countries about making this brandy.
Why u wanna meet with this pure alcohol? My answer is… :)
– pisco sour: 50ml pisco acholado, 1 egg white, 3 drops of angostura bitter, 30 ml fresh lemon juice, 20 ml sugar syrup
– chilcano: 50ml pisco acholado, juice of half lemon, 2 drops of angostura bitter, ginger ale, slice of lemon
– captain: 25ml pisco acholado, 25ml pisco infused with cherries, 25ml red vermut, a touch of angostura bitter
If we are in Peru for a minute… u just can not miss (after the national drink) the national food, the ceviche. Well yeah…. i know. I know what u ve been thinking… that i am out of my mind willing to eat raw fish. Hm. I do love sashimi as well. Did u ever eat sushi? Not much difference… and its very very yummy.
Obviously u need to go to a safe place where u can make sure that the fish is the freshest and the circumstancies are alright (i know that we should stop eating directly fresh raw fish – because by freezing it we can get kill all the bacterias which can harm us – still we dont do this).
Method of prepairing: “ideally” its a very very healthy dish, physically u cook the pieces of fish in a juice of citrics BUT technically with this proccess u do not kill bacterias. Yes, the fish will change color by “being cooked outside” when u leave it to cure for approx 5 minutes. Usually mix with fresh coriander, red onions, chilli and sauce of aji.
Traditionally served with sweet potato slices, lettuce, choclo and plantain. Beautiful dish with an extra: the marinating liquid is perfect compliment to the dish, called “leche de tigre”. Dont be afraid, drink the tigers milk!
Peruvian corn – different then our little yellow fellow what we know in Europe. It is a large kernel of corn from the Andes, more starchy than sweet. Its a perfect street snack (mentioned already the humitas), try to get one next to markets where women sit on the pavement with a massive pot full of boiling water and choclo inside. My very favorite dish is the “pastel de choclo” from San Pedro de Atacama
PASTEL DE CHOCLO
I think this plate was one of the most mindblowing dish what we tried in all the 1 month. It was in San Pedro de Atacama – in the middle of the dessert in Chile. Its like a baked “pie” – on the bottom u find a juicy ragu of meat, olives and hard egg seasoned with paprika. On the top of this u have an amazing creamy layer of choclo – first u might think its polenta but quickly forget it. This stuff much more better, sweeter and u can find pieces of corn. After all the biggest surprise is the cinamon on top – flavours playing between sweet and salty. Beautiful dish.
Its everywhere (mostly Peru and Bolivia) – especially on the cheap daily menu offerts. Easy and simple stuff – like a stir fry with good quality beef slices, onion and pepper.
We had been wondering for 3 weeks what women sell in the street in big plastic jars every morning. Different colors and different textures. Finally in Aerquipa we found a “normal” place where we could have kindof local breakfast so i could ask the waitress about these stuff. They are selling literally liquid breakfast – one part is always smoothy as we know, lots of fresh fruits blended with water or milk. The other half was different cereals soaked in different type of liquids, milk, water or sometimes tea ot juice. Its just too healthy – we tried some warm quinoa in apple juice and oat in milk – perfect start of the day, easily fills u up till lunch.
The other part of the population eats normal breakfast – normal i mean like a lunch: rice with potatoes and meat covered with a clean soup.
COFFEE TIME… ?
If we are talking about breakfast… the coffee still stays questionable. Argentina is obviously like Europa. The other countries produce very good quality coffee beans – but there is absolutely no tradition of drinkin it. So please – think twice before try to order a capuccino. I recommend to buy a nescafe and make it yourself – only because the people are not educated to use a proper coffee machine. Its not their fault, dont be angry but they will burn your milk and the coffee will be dirty.
Or go to Lima where u can find a Starbucks in every single corner. What u can enjoy – in Bolivia and Peru they do coffee (for breakfast for tourist) in a different way – they make an infusion of coffee which is really f*ckin strong – then give u hot water and some evaporated milk to mix yourself as u wish. Was not horrible at all (unless they heat up the milk far toooo much). Generally they have a problem with milk – i guess one part because of the heat – other part is the poberty. People dont have fridge so they can not store milk – so usually they dont have milk. BUT every place sell yoghurt – and they simply store in the shelf without fridge. First i wanted to think that they have different type of yoghurt with other stuff what makes it possible to store in 30 degrees – but then i checked the labels… and it does contain normal “fresh” milk. Soooo… we decided better not to try the “local dairy yoghurt”. khm khhhhm—-