We are just back from a fantastic holiday is Peru. Our son Jason moved there two years ago with his Peruvian girlfriend Lorena, they are running a fantastic restaurant called ‘Nanka’ in La Molina Lima. They have a vertical herb garden across one wall which helps set the scene for a restaurant that uses organic, local, seasonal and sustainable produce. The food is fresh, modern and lends itself to sharing, which is the Peruvian way.
We based ourselves in Lima and travelled around from there. Lima is a big city and very busy. For 8 months of the year it is covered with fog, (no sun) that comes in from the ocean, so it is quite weird day after day. Once you move west out of Lima you can catch some sunshine and the mountain areas are really sunny.
Cusco known as the centre of the Inca empire is the main city before heading to Machu Picchu. It has kept its ancient charm and has many interesting streets and buildings of stone. Mud bricks (adobe) are used extensively by the locals for their dwellings and we felt right at home.
Machu Picchu was a highlight of our holiday a truly amazing place high in the mountains. It is really hard to comprehend the how the Inca people created such a place with their bare hands. The rocks they used are massive and they carved them so they fitted together perfectly with no need for mortar. Lots of lateral thinking going on back then.
The sacred valley was also very beautiful.
We stopped at a house that had a red bag on a stick, this means they have chicha for sale. Chicha is a sprouted corn corn beer, it was really good.
The local women have a real talent for producing fine cloths, woven from alpaca wool, they are dyed using natural plant and insect dyes.
When the Spanish invaded the Incas they realised how special these cloths were and demanded them as taxes.
We went to Isla del Sol (Sun Island), in Lake Titicaca, Lake Titicaca is a huge mountain lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia. There were extensive gardens on this southern tip of Isla del Sol, with many medicinal herbs all well labelled. We attended a ceremony high on a hill overlooking the water. I'm not sure if it was the view or the ceremony, but I felt deep gratitude for such a wonderful world in which we live.
La Paz in Bolivia an interesting city that starts at the base of mountains and rises up the sandy hills. This is where the famous witches market is held and we had fun looking at the bundles of fresh herbs and the many packaged remedies for every ailment you can think of.
Mistura a huge annual food event was on while we were in Lima and it was great looking through the market area at the different produce that is grown throughout Peru. Choosing a potato for a particular dish here in Peru is difficult..there is sooo many different varieties, in fact there are close to 4000 different varieties.
A trip to the Amazon basin was very exciting, besides seeing heaps of Macaws and other beautiful birds, some monkeys and piranha, we got to see and hear about the uses of some of the medicinal herbs and trees growing in the area.
While we were in Lima we were lucky enough to be invited to the Agriculture University in Lima by Daniel one of Nankas' Restaurant suppliers of fresh herbs and vegetables. We also went to Daniels farm south of Lima where he grows most of his produce, it is great to see what growers are doing, they are the important link to the food we eat. If you can't grow it yourself, befriend the grower!