Posted by: travelrat | December 17, 2017

Arrival at Cuzco and Peruvian Eats


Cuzco: 16th February 2017.

We arrived in Cuzco in a light drizzle. I have great admiration for the photographer who took our ‘arrival picture’ at the airport, for we didn’t know he was there. Until the following day, when he presented himself at our hotel with the pictures, which he was selling for a very reasonable price.

We were still trying to get used to the altitude. There were bags of coca tea in our hotel room, and an urn of it was available in the foyer 24/7. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s supposed to do you good. We wanted to eat, but didn’t want to go far, so we settled for the hotel dining room, where, from the somewhat restricted menu, we chose … alpaca!

Here, I’m anticipating a chorus of ‘How could you?’ … but, look at it this way. Alpacas are bred mainly for their wool. In this country, sheep are bred for their wool, but very few people object to eating mutton. Although, given a choice, I think I would go for mutton.

Now, I’ll fast-forward a couple of days, to our last meal in Cuzco. We were taken to a restaurant … I’ve forgotten its name, or TripAdvisor would really hear about it … and promised ‘genuine Peruvian cuisine’. Well, if that was ‘genuine Peruvian cuisine’, you can keep it! Nearly cold rice and badly-cooked chicken; there had been a power cut, but I don’t think that was the reason. I only managed a couple of mouthfuls, then left.

Later, a dot.comrade who has travelled a lot in South America said that certainly wasn’t representative of the food to be had, which was usually excellent. Then, worryingly, he said:

‘Are you sure it was chicken? I believe ‘cuyo’ tastes something like chicken?’

I know about cuyo. Almost everywhere we went in Peru, roadside vendors proffered skewers holding their little grilled bodies. And, we saw live ones, scurrying about the floor in a ‘traditional’ house we visited in Ollantaytambo.

Guinea pigs! I would definitely draw the line there!


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