There’s something a little special about Peruvians, do you know why? It’s because they like to do it on the street… And by ‘do it’ I’m talking about BBQ. And just like Aussies they enjoy a flame grilled bit of meat, and by meat I’m not talking a sausage sanger, or even a steak, oh no, they’re a far more adventurous bunch when it comes to partaking in a bit of mastication.
You see, what we in the west know as BBQ – with steak, sausages, and occasionally the odd chop, or eggplant, potato (or mixed veges) etc, here in Peru BBQ streetfood consists of offal – so think beef hearts, chicken hearts, beef, and chicken stomach (tripe) etc and you get the idea. It’s very much considered a delicacy, and with that mind I just had to try it for myself.
Peruvian street food is like any other street food in that it’s a unique twist of flavour, but on a whole different level – offal is not something I’ve really had a lot in my life, so the flavours coming through reminded me that I was eating something that was completely new to me. The beef hearts had a leathery, almost slightly gamey flavour, and were otherwise not as tender as other parts of the cow, but were sill easier to chew than say the next dish that we ate, chicken hearts, which were a lot more chewier than say standard chicken meat which tends to have more of a stringier consistency, which the hearts really didn’t have.
The beef hearts were marinated in oregano, garlic paste, vinegar, and Aji panca. ‘Aji’ is a chilli, or pepper, and is considered one of the most important ingredients in Peru. It has a mild chilli zip, with a fruity flavour, which gives it a unique character when added to BBQ dishes.
Apart from the offal we were eating, there was also a drink being served from the side of the road which consisted of blue corn, and had a a very cinnamon, clove, and fruity flavour to it, which our legendary unofficial tour guide and history teacher, Corey described tasted a lot like ‘Christmas’ – and it was not hard to agree – it had a slightly smooth consistency which made drinking it a pleasant experience – and its smooth consistency matched its dark red, almost purpley-glossy colour.
At night the streets of Lima really do come alive as we saw down in Lince. Since we’ve been in Lima we’ve heard about a few ‘incidents’ that have happened in and around the city (even things during the day) which I wont go into detail here, and which some of our tour group have been caught up in, and which serve as an ominous reminder that what we’re doing (walking the streets of Lima at night for food) comes with a certain level of risk, which we need to keep in the back of our minds. Nonetheless, we weren’t going to be deterred in search for good food, and we certainly found it when we went looking.
Lima offers some very unique flavours, and what we tasted last night at Anticuchos Dona Pochita certainly gave us that unique food experience which we’d signed up for.