A great Amazonian restaurant is near impossible to create. First off, sourcing ingredients with any regularity in the region is done with hands in prayer. Second, where do you put it? Ideally it would be near the source of those exotic fruits and fish, though the entire region is blanketed… Read More →
If you happen to grab a bite in Peru’s Amazonian region and come across plates of yellowish balls served all around you, don’t panic! It’s nothing out of the ordinary, just one of the most wonderful dishes Peruvian cuisine ever invented. Served in every village, town and city in the jungle, tacacho is part of a strong gastronomic tradition that still remains a secret to the rest of the world. Although Peru has been enjoying a culinary boom for the past few years, its Amazonian region hasn’t gathered much international attention. However, it’s a solid gastronomic identity simply craving to be discovered.
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.
I was in the Brazilian Amazon not long ago and on my plate, stuck into a piece of decoration fruit, was this little, pea sized, yellow bean. I thought it was a piece of the fruit and poked the bean on my fork and put it into my mouth, chewed, and swallowed. It was fragrant, a little fruity, and then the earth shattered and my head exploded. Within seconds I was choking and tears were flowing out of my eyes. It took about ten minutes to recover. Seriously that hot. I had to ask the waitress how you were supposed to eat it. She explained that you just sort of squeeze it with your fork and get a tiny bit of the juice on it and then mix it in whatever you were eating to add some spice (in my case it was fish and rice).
The largest city in the world not connected by roads is a hotbed of interesting restaurants and markets. Peru’s Amazonian capital is a good place to sample the oddities and range of the region’s fruits, vegetables, meats, and traditional plates along with several rather bizarre takes on North American restaurants.
On a post not far from my table a Kingfisher sits for a moment and then flutters off. Off in the distance closer to the shore a white egret stands zen-like. When I came by boat to Al Frio y al Fuego, a thatched roof restaurant in the middle of the Itaya river near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, the clouds were dark and raindrops bounced across the murky water. Now the sun was out and the restaurants turquoise pool was sparkling and inviting though I didn’t think to bring my trunks.
Iquitos, Peru is the largest city in the world not connected by roads. The capital of Peru’s northern Amazon rainforest sits on the Rio Ucayali, not far from where it meets with the Amazon River. The city was officially founded on Jan. 5, 1864 by the Peruvian Navy, however, the Spanish conquistadors were in the area as early as 1542, and numerous native tribes were there well before that.
Of all the river routes in the Amazon, this is one gets you far away from modernity as you could ever imagine.