Saturday, May 30, 2015

“Olive” You, Peru

     One of the things I had looked forward to the most before coming to Peru was getting to try all kinds of new and delicious foods. Peru certainly did not disappoint. Alpaca steak, beef hearts, fresh ceviche, gas station empanadas, and all the wonderful exotic fruits are some of my favorites. Andean cheese and that terrible pizza from Aguas Calientes will forever haunt me, but can be overlooked due to the countless other delicious food options that Peru offers. However, there is one food that I was surprised to find in Peru. When I think of olives, I don’t think of South America. Italy and the Mediterranean region come to mind, but Peru sure doesn’t. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that olives are a part of a decent amount of Peruvian foods. After doing some research, I discovered that olives were brought to Peru from Spain during their conquest and have been integrated as one of the agricultural products of the country.
     Many restaurants offered olives with the bread before meals, one had an olive dipping sauce, and olives were one of the main ingredients in many of the foods we ate. In fact, during our cooking class in Casa Elena we stuffed olives (among other ingredients) in our papas rellenas. Luckily for me, I was one of the only people in our group who liked olives. This meant that every time we were served olives, they all went to me. As such, I ended up eating quite a bit of olives during my time in Peru, and enjoyed every bite.
     I went into Peru with an open mind and a determination to try all kinds of new and strange foods. My palate was certainty put to the test as I expanded my culinary limits. After putting aside my dislike for seafood, I found a new favorite in ceviche. Ignoring the cuteness of alpacas, I was able to discover one of the most delicious meats I have tasted. I found out that gas station food doesn’t always have to be revolting and/or probably toxic, but can at times be delicious (in Peru at least). However, it was always nice to be able to take a break from my gastronomic adventures and return to a classic favorite of mine: good old olives.

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