Unused Tastebuds, On Guard!!

“What is that?” and “How do I eat it?” have become common questions these last couple weeks as we become acquainted with the Peruvian food.

We’re settling in and making friends.  The neighbors have stopped staring; instead, they smile, wave and greet us in a language we’re just starting to understand.  We know we’ll never be “one of them”, but we’re trying our best to blend in.  As such, we can’t carry our camera around taking pictures all the time…that would make us intrusive outsiders.  Here are a few snapshots of the new foods we’ve encountered:

Jack LOVES spicy food, but even he has limits.  At the market, Chris followed the standard pepper rule which says the smaller the pepper, the hotter it is.  This medium size pepper seemed that it would offer the perfect amount of spice to our otherwise bland pasta dinner.  Boy, were we ever wrong.  One bite is all the majority of us (Karen, Katelyn, Anna, Jack and Michael) could handle.  Chris took one for the team and choked some of it down, but even he could only take so much.  Despite grumbling tummies, we all went to bed hungry.

Our first week was filled with coconuts and plantains, neither of which we knew what to do with in their raw, natural state.  We went to our neighbor’s house, coconut in hand, seeking help.  The 14 year old girl grabbed her machete, plopped down on their dirt floor, and started chopping away.  She sliced off the outer layers and then cleaned up the inner seed.  By making a small hole in the top, she drained the milk into a cup (which we drank for breakfast).  Lastly, she broke it open to allow us to enjoy the meat.  It was delicious!!  

Katelyn utilized her blossoming culinary skills to create a delicious, sweet treat of plantains (which need to be cooked). 

The neighbor kids shared their favorite snack with Anna.  We see people eating them all around town; they’re a local favorite.  None of us love them yet…

Juanis are a local favorite that we do love!!  Juanis are rice, vegetables, scrambled eggs and an olive steamed in a large jungle leaf.  After unpeeling the leaf, people eat the rice loaf without utensils and then throw the leaf into the weeds.  It is similar to the pasty eaten by immigrants in northern Michigan while working in the mines.  

We’ve also come to love “chupetas” - homemade popsicle-like treats served semi-frozen in thin baggies.  They’re made by the people here in town with either ground water (or maybe river water), so they could have parasites in them. Please pray for our health and safety as we “eat what is set before us”.

Yucca is another local fare.  We’ve eaten them several times, but haven’t had the chance to photograph them.  Imagine a long, thick white banana that tastes like potatoes… 

Apples have always been a Carmody family mainstay.  Unfortunately, they don’t grow around here so they’re really expensive.  We splurged last week and bought three small ones to share.  After soaking them in bleach water to kill the parasites, we gathered ‘round to enjoy a little taste of home.

“What is that?” and “How do I eat it?” – We’re learning the answers to these questions as we become acquainted with the Peruvian food.

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