Sara’s quest for decent eats for a vegan ETLer in Peru continues!
Eating in Peru, Part II
Cusco, Peru: A beautiful but chilly city in the Andes Mountains . It’s near freezing at night; brilliant sunny skies during the day. I was so happy to breathe in the crisp, fresh air as I stepped off the plane. First stop for food: a vegetarian restaurant. They had several, possibly due to the huge tourist market, much better than many American cities! I had quinoa and lentil soup (quickly became my staple!), veggie soup, tofu, rice, salads, smoothies, and roasted field corn. Another restaurant even had vegan baked goods (not so healthy, though); herbal teas; fresh-squeezed juices; or bottled water. Coca tea is another staple, said to help one acclimate to the altitude. Healthful and non-stimulating, it is illegal in the United States for purely political reasons.
They also had a Govinda’s restaurant–a worldwide vegetarian chain run by Hare Krishnas — each is different, depending on who runs it: Think Indian-meets-Peruvian. (Lima has two or three Govinda’s as well). Watch out for overly fried veggies.
The best was when we went to a market where huge smoothies were the equivalent of an American dollar. They would add in any fruit you wanted, maca, bee pollen, beet and/or carrot juice, and sometimes sprouts. Yummmm. The market also had tons of fruit from all over — small delicious strawberries, cherimoyas, different types of bananas, passion fruits, and more — dried fruit; nuts-in-the-shell; and tons of veggies. I made bean-and-veggie soups with ingredients from the market, and cooked quinoa on the side.
The food isn’t all beautiful. Vegan snack cookies and cereals caught my eye. Coca candies and sweet potato chips asked me to try them (I don’t see non-vegan food). I did, but wasn’t able to finish them–fried food really doesn’t taste like anything except rancid oil! Who needs that? I much preferred buying sweet potatoes or cassava, cooking them in water, and eating them with greens.
And what about sickness? Aren’t you supposed to avoid anything you can’t peel or cook? Well, eating vegan and mostly organic, I don’t usually think much about food sickness. I was fine the whole time, until after 2 or 3 weeks, when I drank some bad water. The two nights following that were horrible–but quickly turned around after a quick and cheap visit with a pharmacist. Strictly avoiding bad water after that but continuing with raw fruits and veggies, I had no problems.
The mountains were beautiful, and people in the neighboring small towns were in much better shape than people in the United States. Much older women would leave me in the dust as I gasped for air, walking up hills. Junk food was around, but more pronounced in tourist areas. Clean air was a given still. Being active was a way of life for people working the land for food on their diversified, small farms. It was beautiful inside and out, not just in terms of available food. I can only hope that continues. After two weeks enjoying the beautiful mountainous region of Peru, I gained appreciation for another way of life. And stayed healthy the whole time (just avoid Peruvian chocolate!) It was a great trip, wonderful and diverse… I still want to go to Mexico during mango season, though! Maybe next time!
It seems one can ETL anywhere! It’s up to us to do our best 😀
Thanks, Sara, for showin’ us how it’s done!