Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alfajores Galore (and other Peruvian Desserts)

            The desserts of Peru have been an incredible part of my cultural immersion. Before coming to Peru, I did not realize the extent of Peruvian desserts that existed. I have to eat gluten-free, but made quite a few “gluten cheats” over the course of the month so I could try various desserts. However, there were also many opportunities for me to make natural substitutes to items to make them gluten-free.
            My all time favorite dessert in Peru was the alfajor.  An alfajor consists of two or more sugar cookies cookies layered on top of each other with a dulce de leche-like filling topped with powdered sugar. It can come in a traditional wheat form or a cornmeal form. I preferred the corn meal form because It did not contain gluten. The combination of the cookie and the filling was indescribable. At times it was almost too rich but paired with coffee or tea, it was delicious. I saw many alfajores over the course of the month, but San Antonio in Lima by far had the best.
            Ice cream and gelato were also quite popular in Peru. Many of the flavors were based on native fruits like maracuyá, but more typical types like chocolate and coffee could be found as well. My favorite ice cream was a pineapple flavor in Ollantaytambo. 
            Crepes were also widely popular and could be found at many restaurants we visited. La Bohème was a favorite French crepery with sweet and savory crepes. I also enjoyed Café del Museo’s crepes. Luckily for me, Peruvians have both flour crepes and crepes made of quinoa flour that don’t contain gluten. The quinoa flour is a bit heavier and darker and is better suited with a savory crepe, but is still a good substitute for sweet.
            Chocolate was a big hit at the Choco del Museo in Cusco. Not only did we learn about chocolate but we made it too. I really liked the milk chocolate paired with quinoa puffs and coca. They also had more traditional flavors like chocolate with marshmallows or oreos as well. I am bringing home a lot of different flavors for my family to try, both Peruvian flavors and more traditional.
            Other pastries such as small cakes, cheesecakes, churros, chocolate croissants, and tarts were also popular finds. Milkshakes were also surprisingly popular amongst other more authentically Peruvian juices and smoothies. Cookies (besides alfajores) were not as popular as in the United States. The only kinds I ever saw were simple tea cookies that usually came when I ordered a tea or coffee.

            All in all, I really enjoyed exploring the desserts in Peru. I had not thought desserts would be such a big part of my experience, but I’m not complaining! The flavors were so much richer than many desserts in the Untied States, but at the same time felt fresher and lighter. I hope to find some alfajores in the US!

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