food and beverage underground

Peaches and Herbs

by Suzy
(Lima, Peru)

Huacatay, Andean black mint, used in sauces or stews

Huacatay, Andean black mint, used in sauces or stews

Lima is the fruit and crops basket of Peru with diversity so rich from the different regions according to varied seasons. They never run out of fresh fruits, vegetables and produce year round. I just found out that the season is the reason why these are abundant all year: when products run out in one region, yet another harvests and sells them next!

I personally got to eat at least a dozen new varieties of fruits that I have never seen or tasted before, like different types of peaches, with a white-colored variety called blanquillo. So, if you love fruits, you will love their granadilla ?sweetest passion fruit, among several sorts the bland, the tart and sour; Tuna- the fruit, not the fish- a prickly pear fruit of cactus quite similar to dragon fruit with 3 varieties: red, gold and green; Aguaymanto called Inca berries or cape goose berry; Pepino dulce or pear melon, yellow gold round cucumber-ish fruit like cantaloupe; Pacay (ice cream bean) which tastes like vanilla flavored cotton; Higo -figs, whose flavor in only eat from cookies. I finally got to eat fresh figs from my neighbor´s tree, during summer, where we pick its sweetest fruits. Lucuma, commonly known as egg fruit which refers to its consistency - that of a hard boiled egg, is popularly prepared and much more delicious as flavoring in ice cream, cakes and pastries which gives the most divine taste. Many more exotic varieties are yet to be tasted, tried and reckoned, especially from the Amazon jungle.

There is a wide diversity of ancient curative root crops and herbal products -emollients distinctive to Peru, now getting famous all over the world: Maca, the Andean version of ginseng, known for to enhance agility, energy and fertility; Uña de Gato (cat?s claw) recognized to fight radicals and stimulates immune system; Sacha Inchi, Inca peanut source of aceite de Sacha Inchi, the Peruvian version of zero cholesterol and rich in Omega 3 cooking oil. Other common herbs are albahaca - basil; culantro- cilantro or coriander usually used for one of Peru?s most popular dish, Arroz con pollo; perejil - parsley; huacatay - Andean black mint; cedron - lemon verbena; hierba buena - a mint variety, different from menta, mint leaves; and the most famous of all coca leaves, commonly used as an energizing tea, mate de coca, other cooking and medicinal purposes, as well as surprising spa treatments.

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