Peru: An adventure in Lima? Alpaca our bags!
Well guys, it’s official. Winter has arrived with a cold, windy bang, leaving us to shiver as we curse the minus temperatures under our breaths, while also dreaming ourselves away to warmer destinations (preferably below the equator). But who needs dreaming when you can transport yourself to faraway destinations by way of your tummy, anytime, anywhere? Okay, maybe it doesn’t beat the real deal… but we promise that our next guest’s exciting dish is perfect for teleporting you and your taste buds away from the winter gloom, if only for a couple of hours.
Hailing from Peru, the magical land that is home to 80% of the world’s alpaca population (we know, we’re looking at flights as we write this), Kryddhyllan’s latest guest Leda bid farewell to her bustling hometown of Lima for the serenity of the Nordics, making a pit stop in Norway before settling in Stockholm. Now, for those who don’t know much about this vibrant country beyond Macchu Picchu and adorable members of the camelid family, Peru is also home to an impressively diverse range of cuisines and is even the country behind pisco sours, your new favorite drink! It features influences from the indigenous population including the Inca, alongside numerous cuisines brought over with immigrants from all corners of the globe including Spain, China and West Africa. This being said, Peruvian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of flavors and ingredients such as the ones that we had the pleasure of making with Leda, including potatoes, rice, and everything nice. The best part? This is a hearty meal that will warm the cockles of even the stoniest hearts, and is perfect for gathering up a crew of your closest friends for a Saturday night of staying in and avoiding the weather. We enjoyed it with Leda, our Peruvian correspondent, and her Spanish co-pilot Gonçalo, which made for some interesting discussions about Spain’s time in Peru all those decades ago… Anyhow, read on to find out how to bring Peru home to you!
A Peruvian Feast at its finest:
Enjoy with: non-alcoholic options include: passion fruit juice or Inca Cola. For beer lovers have a Pilsen (one of the most popular beers in Peru)
Listen to: the tunes of Eva Ayllon
Papa a la Huancaina
Serves 4, takes 20 min
Almond potatoes, about 3-4 per person
Huancaina sauce (see picture)
1 dl sour cream
Olives (kalamata, seeded preferably)
Lettuce leaves (for decoration)
2 boiled eggs (for decoration)
Rinse and boil the potatoes until cooked
While the potatoes are boiling, mix the Huancaina mix with the sourcream
Put a lettuce leaf of each plate, potatoes on top together with olives and eggs (one half per person)
Pour the sauce over and enjoy the goodness of it all!
Serves 4, takes about 30-40 minutes
500 g of beef sirloin
2 red onions, sliced into clefts
Rice (unprocessed) for 4 servings
4 tomatoes, sliced into clefts
2 tbsp soy sauce (then more to add)
4 cloves garlic (2 for the rice, 2 for the beef seasoning) finely chopped
10 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Bag of pre-made frozen potato clefts (for roasting)
Put olive oil and garlic in a large pot and fry on medium heat for a few minutes
Cut meat into stew-sized pieces and mix together with soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper (use your hands for this)
Turn on the oven and cook according to instructions.
Rinse the rice and put into the pot with garlic. Add twice the amount of water and some salt. Turn to high heat and stir
In a large pan, add oil and turn the heat to high. Fry the meat briefly to make it brown on the outside. Set aside.
Add onions to the pan with some soy sauce. After a few minutes add in the tomatoes and add a few more tbsp of soy sauce.
Add in meat in the pan and lower heat. Keep adding soy sauce and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve meat, rice and potatoes together.
Kryddhyllan: What’s your favorite food from home?
Leda: Hmm, my favorite food is one that my mom always makes when I’m going back is called Aji de Gallina. It’s pulled chicken with, similar to the yellow sauce that we had, but it’s warm. It’s made with milk and bread. It’s really good, I love that one. It’s just very tasty, just a lot of good food. Then there’s another dish, it’s called anticuchous, and it’s made from cow’s heart. You cut it in smaller pieces of course, and marinate it overnight, put it on kebab sticks and grill it. It’s super good. When the Spanish were there, we had a slavery era, and this type of food comes from that era.
Gonçalo: Slavery?! Fake news! You took OUR gold!
Leda: *laughs…. Anyway, it came from the slaves, who would eat the inside, the leftovers of the animal. So we have several dishes that are similar to that. From the colonial times.
Goncalo: The golden age of colonialism!
Kryddhyllan: Haha lovely. What brought you to Sweden?
Leda: Work. I mean I was already living in Norway, and then I did an exchange here in Stockholm in 2014, and that’s when I learned about the company that I’m currently working for. So when I started looking for jobs, I started looking in Norway and then I started applying elsewhere, and saw that this company had a position. And I ended up getting the job, it was the last one I applied for before deciding to call it quits and head home.
Kryddhyllan: What made you decide on Sweden for exchange?
Leda: It was a little bit, I dunno, of a coincidence I guess. We had to write a list of countries we would be interested in for our exchange and Sweden was actually my fourth choice, the first being Singapore or Australia. But I got Sweden… the closest one to Norway *laughs. But I really liked it, because I think that, I mean I’m from Lima, which is a big city and very chaotic. And I like Stockholm because it has a bit more of a good balance, it’s small enough so that things work but there are still lots of things to do. It feels safe and that’s super important to me.
Kryddhyllan: Nice! Since moving here, what are some of your new favorite dishes?
Leda: I love Toast Skagen! And I don’t really like shellfish that much, but I really love that one. It has so much cream and lemon. It doesn’t really taste like shrimp. So that one I really like.
Kryddhyllan: Did you know anything about Swedish food before? Apart from it being better than Norwegian food? (kidding Norway)
Leda: No, not really. I mean, I’m thinking back to when I was living in Peru, and I think that Sweden has become so much more known in South America, the Nordics in general, thanks to social media. There are so many videos that feature Sweden as “one of the best places to live in the world”, and this is how the ideal work world is, according to these videos. There was one video that showed Sweden as staring a 6-hour work day, and I got all these messages from my friends saying “you’re so lucky!” and I had to tell them “guys, it’s 9PM and I’m still at work… I’m not lucky”.
Kryddhyllan: Sweden is just good at employer branding.
Leda: Exactly! *laughs
Kryddhyllan: But since moving here, what are some of the best and worst things about Swedish food?
Leda: I mean this might come across as generalizing, but I think that a lot of people here because they have to eat, so food is not really important. For us in Peru, food is family, you’re getting together, you’re talking about dinner when you’re at lunch, always planning what you wanna eat. So it’s a lot of that, and
Kryddhyllan: Then we’re Peruvian!
Leda: Exactly, welcome! But I also appreciate the practicality of it here in Sweden, because in Peru, you have one parent (usually the mom), who will stay at home, or if both have jobs then you would have someone to help out in the house. Obviously here you don’t have the same setup, and you have to makes things more quickly. For example, I cook a lot faster here than I do at home. I can make my lunch in the morning and just toss some things together, and food doesn’t become such a big deal. It allows people to work more and maybe use times differently. Maybe it means that you spend more time with your kids instead of spending two hours cooking every night.
Gonçalo: I think because Sweden doesn’t have too many strict food traditions, they’re much more open to incorporating or testing new cuisines from other cultures. For example, I think Italy is very strict with how you do pasta. They wouldn’t stand for any of this putting ketchup on pasta.
Kryddhyllan: But it’s so good! You make a little smiley face out of the ketchup!
Gonçalo: *sighs deeply.
Kryddhyllan: Guess not… Ok, but if you guys had to pick one food to eat for the rest of your lives, what would it be and why?
Leda: Hmmm… that is a tough one. I mean if it’s one cuisine I would choose Peruvian, because there are so many different things. It’s like Spanish food. I’ve said pasta before. Hm, yeah, pasta. It’s more versatile. You can make so many different sauces.
Gonçalo: I would probably choose fish.
Kryddhyllan: Healthy! Ok, same question goes for spices. What is your spice of life?
Leda: Oooh, I would say yellow chili.
Kryddhyllan: Good one, that’s a new one!
Leda: Because, so many of our foods – wait, I’m guessing salt is included? Aside from salt, I would say that yellow chili is key. Did someone not choose salt?!
Kryddhyllan: Well, we’ve had this ongoing discussion about whether salt is a spice or a mineral.
Leda: Ah, that’s why you said minerals included!
Kryddhyllan: Yeah and herbs, because we’ve been schooled that that is a different thing.
Leda: I mean I guess technically the yellow chili is a vegetable…
Kryddhyllan: Either way, salt should be a given because you shouldn’t have to choose between salt and your favorite spice. What about you Goncalo?
Gonçalo: I mean officially I would say none, because we don’t like too much spiced food in Spain. No herbs either really. Paprika yes.
Gonçalo: Nah… but my personal favorite would be basilica.
Kryddhyllan: Mmmm that’s a good one. And what’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Leda: Oof. Uh, oh wow. Best meal I’ve ever had… I mean, maybe, the closest one I remember from not long ago was at a restaurant in New York. It’s gonna sound super weird for you guys because it’s a seafood restaurant and I usually don’t like seafood. I never know if I’m going to like the fish or shellfish, but we went to this place and ordered something called a “catch tower”, it has lobster and sushi. Everything was so, so good.
Kryddhyllan: That’s very daring of you.
Leda: Yeah, I remember asking: ”what kind of restaurant are we going to?” and they were a bit hesitant to tell me. But I’ve tried lobster before for the first time last year, and I know that I like the meat, but I don’t like the…
Leda: Not the work, more the looks of it. All the claws and stuff, it’s so brutal. It’s like crayfish parties. I can’t deal with that. They look at you like then and then… It’s also super smelly, and taste a lot like the sea. But this catch tower was good. And when I was home last year, I went to this super good restaurant Astrid y Gaston, which is basically the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine to the world. That was very good, very gourmet. It wasn’t the whole guinea pig looking at you type thing.
Goncalo: This is a hard question…
Kryddhyllan: Aside from this meal of course.
Gonçalo: Dammit, I was thinking that… long pause, I have a bad memory. But I guess… my grandfather cooked really, really, really well. So in terms of the combination of quality and quantity, some of the meals my grandparents made- there was a time when me and my brothers lived two floors above my grandparents, and so we were there twice a week, eating with them. This was in Madrid, not my hometown, so our grandparents’ kind of became like our parents when we were studying at university. Sometimes the meals would get out of hand. It would be like one starter, then a main, cheeses, two desserts. Everything of this was amazing and such nice quality, so it was really a delightful experience.
Kryddhyllan: Mmm, a home cooked meal. Nothing beats it.
Kryddhyllan: And last question, what is your absolute favorite restaurant at the moment?
Leda: We were actually talking about this recently, because I don’t really go out to eat that much here in Stockholm, but I would say that… a really good one that I tried and would definitely go back to in Peru is called El Bodegon. It translates in English to “the big pantry”. It’s traditional Peruvian food, because lot of restaurants now in Peru have more fusion or more innovative cooking, but this is really sort of back to the roots of home-cooked Peruvian food. Usually we eat really big portions *laughs. We were there last year and it was really good, so I will stick with that one as a favorite for now.
Gonçalo: Yeah, there’s one favorite in my hometown called O Rey Pescador, which means “the fisherman king”. It’s a seafood restaurant, and is super high quality but very homemade style. Not super fancy, just the traditional cooking style, It’s so good, and we’ve been going for a long time so it also has some sentimental value.
Kryddhyllan: Aw, that’s the best kind. Any places in Stockholm you like?
Leda: I mean, I really like… there is this Chinese place in Hornstull that is really good. Mr Ho’s. That is super good. I haven’t been in a awhile, but I’ll probably go more often now that I live five minutes away. I like Yuc, but that’s more for the environment than the food. La Neta also has really good food as well.
Gonçalo: I like Smak, and because I like fish I like the concept of B.A.R. That you can choose your own fish and stuff.
Kryddhyllan: Nice, well thank you guys! Let’s eat some more!