A friend got married in Lima and invited Bertrand and I. Of course we went, and we had an amazing time.
Bertrand and I hadn’t taken a vacation together without the kids since Jasmine was born. Somehow, we convinced my parents that watching a two-year-old and a four-year-old for eleven days wouldn’t be an imposition, so we were able to travel to Peru on our own without rugrats.
Neither of us had ever been to Latin America or spoken a word of Spanish, but we found Peru to be incredibly welcoming and easy to navigate as tourists. We had an amazing time and ate some credible food! Here are the highlights of our stay in Lima.
SRSLY EAT CEVICHE. If you eat nothing else in Peru, make sure you stop by a cevicheria and enjoy a plate of this amazing raw fish cooked to perfection by marinating it in lemon juice. We had it several times, the best of which were at Canta Rana (so good we came back and ate there a second time) and the Mercado Central, or central market.
Yes, raw fish as street food. SRSLY DO IT NOW
There’s no better way to get to know a city by peeking into the way it’s inhabitants buy, prepare, and enjoy their food. Our tour guide was surprised by our desire to wander through the market, but once we realized that we were serious about sampling the fruits, cheeses, and olives on display, he relaxed and took us on an amazing tour.
Lima (and Peru) is full of cathedrals. Bertrand and I have lots of words about the Spanish using religion as a force for subvert indiginous power structures for the good of colonialism. Yes, we are those asshole tourists that look at a church and be like, “Man, that gold sure could have fed a lot of people.”
Despite that, the cathedrals are beautiful. And interesting. And full of fascinating art depicting the suffering and woe that came with being a devout Catholic in previous centuries.
Tasting menu at Central
The tasting menu at Central isn’t just to show off Gastón Acurio’s mastery of his native Purvian cuisine. Each dish is designed around ingredients from a specific elevation at a specific place. From seaweed to quinoa to chocolate to alpaca, the food was delicious and interesting. Bertrand and I both thought the food was good, but more importantly (because we also think that grilled chicken from a street food vendor is good), we also appreciated the thought and care that went into preparing a menu that highlights the diversity of Peruvian ecology, culture, and cuisine.
The chefs at Central were kind to take a photo with us!
Miraflores and Barranco are wealthy and touristy neighborhoods, no doubt, similarly to downtown London and New York. However, they both also have a rich tradition of art, particularly Barranco, which was an enclave for both Peruvian and expat artists at the turn of the 20th century.
Bertrand had never done it. So he did. I thought he was out of his goddamned mind. On our way out of Peru, we spend a night in Barranco. After dropping our bags at our hotel (it was beautiful but insanely awfully noisy and I won’t link to it here), we took of in search of the Pacific. After a few wrong turns, we finally made it to the beach. It was overcast and beautiful and cold.
Like I said, out of his goddamned mind.
The Larco Museum was a quick look at the history of Peru and art in Peru. It was well laid out and beautiful. For Bertrand and I, who were only able to visit Lima and the Sacred Valley, it was a useful orientation to the history of the region and where the Inca Empire was situated in it.
Also interesting was the room of erotic art downstairs near the cafe.
Huaca Pucllana Ruins
The Huaca Pucllana Ruins are pre-Columbian (and pre-Inca) ruins sitting in the heart of Lima. They’re over 1500 years old and awe inspiring in their detail and earthquake resistant construction. Bertrand and I enjoyed the tour, then returned a few days over for a mind-blowingly good dinner as part of the wedding festivities. Like Central, the Huaca Pucllana restaurant focused on turning local traditional dishes into haute cusine. They were succesful and the food was delicious.
Self-catering with Peruvian specialities
At the end of our several day stay in Lima, Bertrand and I were restauranted-out, cathedraled-out, touristed-out, and just plain tired. We both needed a quiet evening before heading to Cuzco bright and early the next morning.
We hit up a grocery store and picked up several prepared dishes of Peruvian specialities. Beans, rice, salad, fried pork, aji, and of course, Peruvian wine. It was a perfect end to our stay in Lima.