Our first night we stayed at a dodgy hostel in the outskirts of Barranco, a popular neighbourhood for bars and eating out, and arrived late to the area. Out in search of food, and wholly lost – we stumbled upon one of my favourite meals of my trip so far. It was a very 60s esque room, with wooden cladding half way up the walls, impressionist paintings and small circular tables for the guests. We ordered a jar of lemonade (a very common drink in Peru and Colombia, much to my delight) and ate a delicious meal followed by the most incredible slice of lemon meringue pie, complete with a towering (and I mean towering) dome of meringue on top. We went back to this restaurant twice, almost accidentally – we were following a lonely planet meal recommendation that turned out to be the same place. Then, on our final night – well, I just wanted to have that pie again. On our last two visits, the room was complete with a live piano player – the only thing that was missing from making the restaurant entirely perfect on the first night.
We moved around to 4 different hostels in Lima, staying in 3 different areas – a sample, if you will. I loved staying downtown, right beside the art gallery (which, because of closing times and disorganisation, I never made it to) – but it lacked any good food close by, if you excuse the thousands of Chinese-Peruvian greasy diners nearby. Interestingly, Chinese food (called Chifa there) is a huge part of Peruvian cuisine, with arroz chaufa, fried rice, being a national dish. We had a meal at a recommended restaurant in Lima’s Chinatown, which was incredible.
I also loved Barranco, which was a stunning area with beautiful housing and great restaurants. Although further away from the centre, this was the area of the walking tours and other attractions, so an ideal neighbourhood to hole yourself up in for a few days.
I tried cuy, guinea pig, in Lima – roasted with fresh vegetables and an odd sugar sauce, which hardened into a sticky, top of the mouth caramel when you tried to eat it. Guinea pig tastes a lot like duck, quite delicious. But I definitely wouldn’t purchase it like I saw them in Cusco, strewn all over the streets. A memory that maybe impacted my appreciation of the meal slightly.
I visited the catacombs in an old Franciscan monastery in Lima, which I found so interesting. Aside from the history of the place, I was interested to find that historians and archeologists had rearranged the bones of the dead in the tombs – forming beautiful patterns inside the vaults with the remaining skulls and tibias. Stripes made up of one row skull, one row tibia- and circular formations in the same method, felt quite macabre.
A favourite afternoon was spent making ceviche for a class organised by our hostel. We took a trip to the markets, watched as a fishmonger filleted hundreds of fish with alarming speed and agility, then set out in search of the other fresh ingredients. Back at the hostel, we set out making the “tiger milk” – the juice of ginger, garlic, chilli, and coriander – to marinate the fish in. Combining that with the gallon of lime juice, and letting it sit briefly – we were rewarded with the most incredible, fresh ceviche – in a city famous for it. Incredible, and certainly curing of my dislike for fish!
The weather in Lima is absolutely peculiar – a never ending greyness shrouds the city, despite the pleasant temperatures. As such, everything is grey, grey, grey – in 5 days, we didn’t see the sun, or the sky, at all. So sad, because the city, coastal- would be stunning with a little sunshine. Pathetic fallacy was definitely in play in Lima, I think.