Peru – El Mercado


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.

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