Tom Filipowicz shows us that food is never far away in Peru. Fancy a quick snack while exploring the streets of Chiclayo? These are your options…
Much has been written over the past few years about Peruvian cuisine. With the increase in tourism and the resultant increase in hotels and restaurants there has also been a rash of cooking schools starting up, as well as new cooking courses offered at the leading universities. Often there are food fairs sponsored by municipalities where cooking schools and universities display the art of cooking and offer to sell their creations to fair goers. Personally, though I enjoy Peruvian cooking, I like street snacks even more.
Street snacks are sold by mobile vendors on the streets. There are actually two broad categories of street snacks based on time of day. In the morning and early afternoon lighter snacks dominate. Toward late afternoon and into the evening the heavy duty, substitute-for-a-full-meal snacks appear in the form of tamales, humitas, empanadas, hot sandwiches, anticuchos and brochetas. We’ll explore those in a future post.
Street snacks are tasty and they satisfy that ‘between meals’ hunger. You don’t have to walk very far to encounter a wide variety of inexpensive snacks offered by corner vendors. Of the lighter snacks nearly everything is available, from candy to fruits and nuts and…well, let’s have a look at some that I enjoy.
Fresh squeezed orange juice is a big seller. Other beverages available are soya, cebada, chicha morada, emolientes, jugo de caña (sugar cane juice), raspadilla (slurpee) as well as bottled water and soda.
This woman offers a variety of baked goods including an item filled with apple. I don’t know what they’re called but I’ve learned how to point to them and say “un sol” (35 cents) which gets me four of them. The man has crackers, candy bars, cookies and juices in his display case.
Slices of pineapple, watermelon, granada, raw sugar cane and higos are popular items especially during the summer months.
Besides an assortment of packaged snacks including powdered pollen, this woman is offering bottles of honey and algarrobina for sale. The honey is processed locally in homes and sold in recycled rum and wine bottles.
Fruit in this wheelbarrow consists of grapes, limas, granadillas and ciruelas. Wheelbarrow vendors are almost never stationary, instead walking regular routes and selling to homes and small businesses as well as passing traffic.
Hot dogs are also available…okay, lousy joke. These aren’t really street snacks, but I had my camera out so what the heck. The puppy the woman is offering is the famed Peruvian hairless dog with its origins in pre-Inca cultures. Custom has it that sleeping with these dogs will cure asthma and bone aliments.
In the sweets category is this baked coconut mixture. Bottom-right in the cooler is the equivalent of a popsicle…known locally as bodoques. Bodoques come in three flavors…tamarindo, coco and fresa, all of which in my opinion are forgettable.
I’ve kept my favorite snack for last. For 35 cents you get six peeled hard-boiled quail eggs in a plastic bag plus a toothpick to eat them with and a light sprinkling of salt if you want it. I always tell myself I’ll eat just one on the spot and save the rest for home, but I never get more than two blocks before looking for some place to dispose of the empty bag.
There are many more snacks that I haven’t mentioned. I will typically buy one or two different items when walking around town, but only from regular vendors that I recognize. Even the locals don’t trust what they refer to as ‘casuals’ …sellers who haven’t been seen in a specific location before and appear not to be experienced at what they’re doing. Nobody wants to risk Montezuma’s revenge.
If you’d like to experience places like this and get a taste of real daily life in northern provincial Peru, speak to Tom & Maribel via Mochica Hostess Tours