Archive for June, 2015

Peru – El Mercado

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Umm ... Dorothy, we're not in HAACP country anymore.

While in Lima, Peru, I visited one of the markets. I’ve never experienced a market like this and let’s just say that it’s probably a good thing that I did this late in my visit. I’m a bit of a food safety fanatic, and I just don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations I saw at this market. Had I gone to a market like this near the beginning of my visit, I don’t know that I would have been able to eat anything except heavily processed foods, or produce that I washed myself with bottled water.

If you’ve seen the first Sex and the City movie, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I wasn’t as bad as Charlotte, but I had some food safety concerns while I was traveling in Peru. If you haven’t seen the move, check out this clip and then you’ll know what I mean. I wasn’t this extreme, but I was cautious. I read all of the CDC food safety precautions and tried to follow them responsibly.

Let’s tour this market together. The produce was bountiful and beautiful.

Produce of all kinds

Loads of fresh fruits.

Peruvian limes ...

Peruvian limes (limóns) are a  key ingredient in ceviche. These limes are highly acidic and have a distinct, strong flavor.

Papas!

Peruvian Cherries ...

Peru is famous for its potatoes (papas). There are about 3,800 different varieties of potatoes in Peru. You could eat a different type of potato with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and it would take about 3 1/2 years to try every variety. That’s a lot of potatoes! That will get you carbed up for some serious cycling or hiking.

Peruvian Cherries have been cultivated since Inca times. They also grow wild at high altitudes. I’ve had these a long time ago and they were introduced to me in California as “ground cherries.” I remember them having sort of a funky taste to me.

So, that was the kinda’ safe stuff at the market … now we’ll look at what made my inner ServSafe nerd recoil a bit … OK, a lot.

Chickens ...

... more chickens ...

Meat ...

More meat ...

I don’t even want to think about how many HAACP violations there are in these displays. Raw meat and poultry out in the open? Dripping juices on the floor … umm …

... more meat ...

Seafood ...

... more seafood ...

... more seafood ...

At least the seafood was iced. Most of the meat and/or poultry was not refrigerated and it was just out in the open for anyone to touch, to sneeze on, to … well, potentially contaminate.

This was truly an experience out of the ordinary for me. I love markets. I love food shopping, sampling, and trying new culinary adventures. That said, I’m also very aware of food safety.

It was pointed out to me on my last day in Lima, as we were finishing another lovely meal, that most of the restaurants in Lima probably shop at that market.

Sigh … it was a really cool cultural experience, but like I said … I’m glad to see a market like this towards the end of my trip and not the start.

Peru … Getting There

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Packed & Ready To Go!

Sudoku ... of course!

CDC medication and safety check list … done.

Buckets of sunscreen … check.

Sunscreen clothing … check.

Wide brim hat … check.

Hiking boots … check.

Passport … check.

Plane tickets … check.

Way too much other stuff, too … uh, yeah, maybe.

My day began with a very early morning flight from Sacramento to Houston, then a long layover in Houston.

Stunning clouds!

Look at these cloud formations!

Houston Airport

Wow ... retro!

I arrived to Houston just in time for lunch.

 

One of the Houston aiport restaurants, Pappadeaux, came highly recommended. That recommendation was so spot on. It was one of the best meals I had on my trip.

I wasn’t super hungry, so I was looking for something really light. I ordered an appetizer of fresh ahi tuna, avocado, mango, and arugula. Served with a light vinaigrette, it was was amazing and exactly what I was hungry for. It was simple, fresh, and delicious.

Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Mango, and Arugula

I savored every last little bite. It really was that good.

Yeah, I know ... wine at lunch ... but I was on vacation!

With my lunch, I enjoyed a local (Texas) Viognier. It was the perfect complement.

This was the most leisurely lunch I’ve had in quite some time and I enjoyed every perfect bite.

To pass the time, I studied a little Spanish … played a little Sudoku … did a lot of people-watching.

I checked in early for my flight and am so glad that I did because this gave me the chance to chat with some of the airline staff and ask for a better seat. I had a terrible seat assignment and was hoping to switch. The flight was completely sold out, so my hopes were quickly dashed. However, good fortune was in my corner that day because one of the connecting flights was terribly late and missed our flight. I’m very sorry for the other travelers, but I was so thrilled because I got to move to a really great seat by the window rather than being in the center seat of the middle of the plane.

Beautiful views on my way to Peru!

Checking progress …

On our way!

Getting closer!

Almost there!

More to follow …

Coming Soon … Peru – the Food

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
More to follow …

One of my favorite meals I had in Peru ... Ceviche Mixto

 

Peru – Machu Picchu

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

I took hundreds of photos in Machu Picchu and not one adequately captured the awe-inspiring, breathtaking beauty, but here are a few from my visit. To see them larger, simply click on the photo.

Panoramic View - before the crowds show up!

Machu Picchu - Las Ruinas (The Ruins)

Stunning views ...this is the BIG mountain climb ... what is the name?

The air was deliciously clean ...

Contemplative Llamas ...

Some of the terraces ... these were all built by hand ...

Some of the buildings ...

... more ...

... a different view a bit later ... clouds and impending rain, much welcomed by this parched Californian!

Aaaah ... cool, refreshing, invigorating, delicious, gentle rain!

I am still mentally and emotionally processing this experience. What I will take away from this and keep with me for the rest of my life is a feeling, and though our group was given a very informative tour by a very knowledgeable tour guide (Eddie), what I will remember more than the history, is how warm, welcoming, gracious, and kind he was.

I will always remember how the air was so clean.

My breathing was surprisingly good at this altitude. Yes, it took a few minutes at first to get my breathe, and it was very helpful to stop now and then to hear the history and to take photos. We did not take on any super challenging hiking (no Inca Trail, no BIG mountain pictured above … which I cannot remember the name of and at this time I cannot find it and I have to go to sleep!), but I felt like I could have hiked UP almost anything (as long as I had a wall or railing or something to hold on to because a few times I felt a little wambly … THAT was the altitude and that is my story and I’m sticking to it.) Downhill … well, that’s an entirely different story. For some reason, I often find it harder to hike down than up.

If you’re interested in learning more about Machu Picchu, here are a few good sites to check out:

I’ll be posting more about my trip to Peru. The food. The sites. The people. The experience.

Machu Picchu

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

A once-in-a-lifetime experience …

Wow. Just wow.

More later …

Fresh Fruit Ices

Saturday, June 6th, 2015
Watermelon Ice

Summer weather calls for cool, refreshing beverages. These fresh fruit ices are perfect after a ride, or just to sip in the shade on a hot day to cool off.

Watermelon Ice

1/4 cup frozen watermelon chunks
1 cup cool water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon agave syrup (optional, depending on the sweetness of your watermelon)

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

I think a squeeze of fresh lime would be wonderful in this.

Diced watermelon has only about 45 calories per cup and agave syrup 15 calories. So, as prepared, this beverage has only about 25 to 30 calories. Enjoy guilt-free!

Pineapple Ice

 

Pineapple Ice

1 1/2 cups cool water
1/4 cup frozen diced pineapple chunks
1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pineapple chunks have about 85 calories per cup, so this ice has only about 22 calories per serving. Pineapple is sweet enough on its own that you don’t need to add any sweetener.

You can do this with any fruit you like. I’ll certainly be trying fresh peaches, nectarines, cherries, and so on …

Enjoy!