Taquile is an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca, a couple hour boat ride from Puno. The Quechua speaking island, though frequently visited by tourists, still retains a very traditional lifestyle, which includes weaving, traditional food and dress, and mythology. The beautifully illustrated book, Kusikiy: A Child From Taquile, Peru by Mercedes Cecilia, offers spectacular insight into the ancient culture still living on this fascinating island.
London has not, at least thus far, caught on to the Peruvian restaurant boom. That is about to change. In 2012, four new Peruvian restaurants are set to open in various parts of the city.
As Peruvian cuisine grows in stature around the world, so do the number of visitors looking to explore the food on its home turf. A few years ago you could barely find a culinary tour if you tried. Now there are several decent ones that bring you face to face with leading chefs and to visit markets and restaurants that only culinary insiders have heard of.
The home of Peruvian pink salt is 10,000 feet high in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 30 miles north of Cuzco, near the town of Maras. Here, more than four thousand small ponds of salt cluster together on a steep hillside. Each salt pond has a deed, like that of a deed to a house, and they are passed down from family to family, as they have been for centuries, since before the start of the Inca Empire. The pale pink salt contains magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc and is believed to have curative properties by the local population.
Mexico has the taco. Honduras has the baleada. El Salvador has the pupusa. Pipil tribes, first ate the thick and usually filled, hand formed nixtamal tortilla, more than a thousand years ago. Evidence of pupusas has even been uncovered at the Mayan site of Joya de Cerén. They are the most common street snack in El Salvador and can also be found in neighboring countries like Honduras and Guatemala. Most often, pupusas are filled with quesillo (or queso, a soft white cheese), frijoles (refried beans), chicharrón (ground pork), or loroco (a native Central American flower). They are typically served with curtido, a lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar.
At Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena, Colombia’s once down and out Getsemani quarter, a new scene is emerging in the Caribbean enclave. There’s not the cookie cutter cruise ship emerald shops and Hard Rock Cafes, but rather the atmosphere is fueled by the faded stone walls, graffiti, loud music, and strong drink. In this day glow painted bar, owned by Jorge Escandón of La Cevicheria fame, that particular strong drink would be the Machaca’o, a newly invented cocktail that is aiming to become Cartagena’s official.
The uncontacted tribes of the Amazon basin are a reality that many regional governments would prefer not to be true. The existence of these highly susceptible indigenous groups – found in the most remote reaches of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela – prevents the miners, loggers, and oil from removing the valuable resources that are becoming increasingly easier to extract. While they are protected under international law, the enforcement of those laws is loose at best, shifting with every change in government. Some governments go as far to say that because they are unseen, that the tribes are fictional creations by environmentalists that want to hamper the development of rainforests. Proving that the tribes, who voluntarily choose to be in isolation, do exist without threatening them even more so than they already are is a complicated tasks, as the book The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace attests.
The Mercado Central in Cuzco is in giant warehouse a few blocks away from the main plaza. Unofficially, it also stretches towards the railway tracks, becoming more gritty as it does. The warehouse houses a lot of food stalls, with large sections devoted solely to either fruit drinks, snacks and… Read More →
Growing to almost 500 pounds, paiche is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. The Amazonian fish is now appearing on restaurant menus worldwide, which could help save the species.
A four day tour of Uruguayan wine country, small though it is, still barely scratches the surface and leaves one wanting more – be it somewhere new, or more of the same, the wines, people and culture are wonderfully addictive.