Many of my friends know that I am a foodie. Back at home, if the TV wasn’t tuned in to the news it was probably on Food Network or The Cooking Channel. (Did you know that they’re sister networks? Makes sense, I guess.)
For approximately one year, I ate a vegan diet. I have no raging political reasons why, the simple answer is that it is a very healthy lifestyle – when done correctly, of course. (That goes to say with really any “diet”.) But about two months before I left for Peru, I started incorporating the foods that I had been fasting from. I am 100% fully supportive of dairy, eggs and meat. They are great. Greek yogurt is probably one of my favorite foods on the planet and no almond/soy/rice/coconut/hemp/whatever milk “yogurt-style” concoction can fill its place in my heart. Once I knew that I was going abroad, I knew that I wouldn’t keep up the vegan-ness. Reasons being I didn’t want to impose such a persnickety diet upon my hosts and why would I want to deprive myself of this unique culinary opportunity? I mean seriously. While I do miss the occasional tofu-scramble, I couldn’t be more in love with the food here.
Being the aforementioned foodie I like to think I am, I did a little research on Peruvian cuisine before heading down here. I hadn’t known this before, but Peruvian food is apparently quite on the rise in the culinary world and that was pretty darn exciting for me. Reading about all of the different dishes, fruits, snacks and drinks made me hungry. In fact, I’m hungry right now.
Having been here for a bit, I’ve gotten to a point where I have specific people I buy my food from. The open air markets host a plethora of vendors, so it was overwhelming at first when trying to figure out which one to go to. I’m not sure how it came to be, but now there’s a special person for my snacks (nuts, dried fruit, the occasional pack of gummy bears), yogurt, bananas and tangerines, mangoes and of course, there’s panadería across the street for bread. When it comes down to the produce and yogurt, there isn’t really much difference between the same type of fruit or brand of yogurt that’s sold at every other store. But I’ve become fond of the people I go to, often once or twice a week, and it seems weird to think about any other way of buying groceries.
If you’re thinking, “But Michelle, that’s basically the same thing as buying food from a farmer’s market!” I get it. But honestly, it’s different. Farmer’s markets in the US feel more like a novelty compared to how I buy food in Villa El Salvador. Now, I’m not trying to start a conversation about the importance of local agriculture and the domination of mass-produced food. My main point is that there are many opportunities to connect with people. I knew that traveling to Peru would manifest grand opportunities for such networking, it’s the seemingly little connections, like having a conversation with the woman who sells trail mix, that remind me of how fulfilling it is to just converse with people. And if it’s over food, all the better!
So with all of this said, I think I would like to make Monday posts, food-centric. Because why not? Mondays and Tuesdays are my days off, so I think that considering Tuesdays are usually reserved for day-trips, Mondays are looking like a pretty good day to devote to food.
P.S. The featured picture was taken at La Casa de la Gastronomía, which is a museum dedicated entirely to Perúvian cuisine.