El Comercio, the largest newspaper in Peru, interviewed me on the presence of Peruvian food in the United States, recently in advance of their soon to launch Food blog: Periodista de EE.UU. tiene en la gastronomía peruana a la razón de su vida | El Comercio Perú.
It took a French band in Brooklyn, New York to really turn me on to Chicha, the psychedelic Amazonian cumbia that came out of the Peruvian Amazon in the late 1960’s. Cumbias Amazonicas were inspired by Colombian cumbias but added Andean melodies and surf guitars, wah-wah pedals, organs, and synthesizers. Chicha soon spread out from the jungle to the migrant population in Lima and blended even more with popular music in Peru of the time.
With Europe being still so unaffordable for American travelers, Buenos Aires, a city many consider to be more European than anywhere in Europe, is a steal. True the Peso has gone up from where it was a few years ago, but when the price of a steak and a bottle of Malbec is the same price as a burger at TGI Friday’s at home you can’t complain. Here are three places options for resting your head:
Las Cholitas Luchadores, or the Fighting Cholitas, are a WWE style wrestling organization that operates in a small stadium in El Alto, about 25 minutes from the center of La Paz. In the approximately two and a half hour “show” you’ll see half a dozen matches between men and between women and men. The men’s costumes are outlandish, while the women perform in traditional Andean dress. In a world where Andean women have traditionally had fewer opportunities than men, in these wrestling matches they become the crowd favorites and heroes to the local community in El Alto. It’s a symbolic fight that has as much cultural relevance as La Diablada in Oruro.
Writer Huw Hennessy, who I recently met in the Galapagos, has written an account on the Ecuadorian rainforest that I think all should read. In the Independent (What lies beneath the rainforest – Nature, Environment – The Independent) he discusses the Chevron disaster – and the ensuing $27 billion lawsuit… Read More →
Panchita is the latest Gastón Acurio creation in Lima. The emphasis here is on traditional Criollo dishes, which are served in large portions. They call Panchita an anticucheria, though that might be a bit of a stretch. While in general I like most of what Acurio puts out, it is hard to get an honest review of most of his restaurants because most everyone in Lima is so blinded by his star power that they accept whatever is put on their plate for gold. He makes Peruvian food that is acceptable for the international crowd and the restaurants can stand on their own in any city in the world. That said, I always have a good meal at one of Acurio’s restaurants, just not a great meal.
Singani is Bolivia’s answer to Pisco in Peru and Chile. The clear, 80 proof spirit is distilled from muscatel of Alexandria grapes in the southern city of Tarija and sometimes just over the border in northwest Argentina, however, its origins trace it back to the Valley of Cinti in Chuquisaca when Augustinian monasteries that had been in the region since the 1550’s began distilling wine.
Ecuador’s Arriba and Cacao Nacional cacao beans are considered some of the finest in the world and international chocolatier’s have long recognized their superiority. Only recently however, have artisanal labels sprung up from within the South American nation, much of it organic, fair trade, and of superior quality than has ever been produced before.
In a dispatch from his tour for the book Momofuku, Momofuku restaurant empire executive chef David Chang recounts eating cuy, or Guinea Pig, at Gaston Acurio’s La Mar in San Francisco. He’s still not a fan. Read here: Pork Rinds, Guinea Pigs, Etc.: The Q: GQ.
The NYTimes explores the newly evolving dining scene in Valaparaiso, Chile. Writer Vanessa Gregory hits up Poblenou, Pasta e Vino,La Concepción, and a few others: