While I was at home recovering from my broken ankle I decided to have an early 21st Birthday celebration with my friends and family before my return to Peru. Of course, I took this opportunity to share some of my favourite Peruvian food and drink. Below is the menu plan (forgive my terrible writing). Considering we don’t have a local Peruvian grocers, we had to make trips all over Rutland and Leicestershire to various supermarkets to get all the ingredients we needed, particularly relying on Leicester’s Indian shops for the fresh ingredients, such as chillis and peppers. This wasn’t detrimental to the Peruvian feel of the meal at all and it all worked very well.
Of course I had to greet my guests with the Peruvian drink of choice, the Pisco Sour, which is made from egg whites, sugar syrup, lime juice, Angustura bitters and Pisco, a spirit made of grapes in the Peruvian desert. This drink is an acquired taste, certainly not for everyone, but I’m pleased to say my Granny loved it! I was also able to talk to my family about the process of creating the spirit as I did a tour of a Pisco Vineyard in September.
As snack we had sweet potato crisps and plantain crisps, which are called chifle in Peru.
The centre piece of the meal was a whole shoulder of pork, slow cooked for 24 hours that we used to make chicharron sandwiches, an absolute favourite of mine, which I eat every Sunday at the organic Surquillo market in Miraflores. The sandwich contains pork, sweet potato, and salsa criolla which consists of red onions, lime juice, chilli and coriander. Everyone loved the chicharron.
Above is the Salsa Criolla. I also made a wide variety of Peruvian Salads from the Matrin Morales Ceviche recipe book, as well as one of my own recipes. These included an artichoke heart salad, ensalada Miraflores, which had butter beans, cheese, bacon and tomatoes, and a really delicious mango ceviche (we didn’t want to risk raw fish in the centre of England). My salad combined Peruvian staples of Quinoa, sweet potatoes and peppers, with Greek Halloumi, spinach and ginger.
This was my Chicharron sandwich – a valiant effort I think!
For pudding I made a traditional cake called a Turron de Doña Pepa, which is a bit like an aniseed flavoured shortbread cake, layered and drizzled with a spiced syrup and covered with colourful sprinkles. While is looks wonderful, I think I’ll need to practise this recipe a little more to get it to a soft and sticky consistency!
It felt really lovely to share even this small part of my Peruvian experience with my family, and it’s always lovely when people appreciate your cooking.