Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.

Huancayo, Peru: August 2010 – San Jeronimo and cooking

Posted in Peru on August 23, 2010

On Sunday we went to the Sunday market, which is the biggest market in Huancayo. A street shuts down for about 5 or 6 blocks. and is lined with 2 rows of vendors. Most of the goods were the typical Peruvian handcrafted goods, such as silver, painted gourds, cheesy souvenirs, and alpaca blankets and sweaters. There were some foods and a special spot designated to manufactured items, like shoes. I had fun walking around and did manage to find a few great things. One of which came from a man who made some purses out of recycled leather. they were one of a kind and just what I was after. There were a few vendors who made one of a kind items such as Jewelry and purses wallets etc. Mostly men, and very funky hippy like people. I liked them, they were right up my ally :) I wasn't feeling well so I didn't stay to long. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that about 4 vendors told us to turn around and go back the other way because there was a man following us. they warned us to keep our bags close in front of us and to ignore if anyone tries to, for example, spill water on us, spit on us, or ask us to hold a baby. Because that is when they will try to rob us. The people were very kind to help us out. Again with the kind people... so wonderful. Nothing came of that man, at least not for us.

I spent the next evening and most of the next day at the hotel because I came down with a terrible cold and wanted to sleep it off so I could just be better. When every one got back from working I was told that Jessie and Lisbeth had arranged to take us in our bus to see a few things around the area. I thought I should try and get out of the room and attempt to feel better so I tagged along. And was so glad I did. The driver drove us out of Huancayo and into a small village where there was a family who spun alpaca wool and would weave wall hangings, blankets, sweaters etc. Here is the fantastic part. Not only is it all handmade by them but it is dyed using only natural plant dyes and in no part of the process at all are chemicals used. This is just what I've been looking for! She showed us how she spun the yarn and what plants were used for dying. There were two types of plants used for a few different colors, (cant remember which ones) A certain type of wood used for the blue and small bugs on who burrow themselves on a cactus for the red. you squish them of course for the red color :) She then showed us how to weave on these beautiful wooden machines, all done by a foot pedel. I had a hard time controlling myself in here. It was my goal this year to start investing in more natural fibers and dyes for my own clothing. I ended up spending and total of... 535 soles. Two blankets, 5 sweaters, and half a kilo of alpaca yarn.... oh yeah.. by the way.. does anyone know how to knit? All but three are gifts for people. No, Im not telling who, you can wait :P This amazing shop was run out of their home and looked to be in the courtyard of the home. It was a typical South American home, of you can imagine what you've seen in the movies. the front was gated and when you walked in it opened into the courtyard. The house itself was at the front of the compound (above the gate) and their were stairs to go up into the home. on the ground floor under the stairs, there was the most beautiful terra cotta, very large sink. Which every home I have seen so far always has one in the yard. I intend on having one too one day :P

Afterwards we went to a town called, San Jeronimo. There was a festival going on there. It is the festival of their patron saint. The festival lasts 6 days and is very lively with, dancers, beer gardens, carnival rides, games, vendors and more. There was a parade of people dressed in costumes and masks dancing wildly down the street followed by a live band playing some traditional tunes. The dance was called Avelino and is traditional to the festival. Will have to research some more info on that.. After that we drove to see a very very big statue of the virgin Mary in a town called Concepción.

Tuesday was a normal day at work, except for the amount my nose was running. And after work we were going to attend a cooking class. I was so excited to learn a traditional Peruvian dish!! We met up with the teacher and he took us to a the traditional market where we were going to buy fresh ingredients for the class. There was many beautiful fruits, vegetables and grains etc. And of course lots of fresh meat, cheeses, dairy products. I was happy that what we were making was a vegetarian dish because I was hungry and I was looking forward to eating it! Also, I wouldn't trust the meat in the meat market just because of how long it sits out for. Amoung other reasons... Many people in the group were shocked at the sight of the meat market. But really, its just where people go to buy their meat. After all, meat is dead animal remember? And here they use all parts of the animal, at home, most of it is wasted. I must admit the smell was a little offensive, but you guys sure enjoy the smell after its cooked and covered in spices don't you? Nobody wanted me to remind them that the meat they have been eating for the last week in the restaurants came from there. Haha, people are so silly. Welcome to the meat market.

We went to a friend of the chefs home and cooked up a wonderful traditional Huancayo meal. Here is the recipe:

Papas a la Huancaina- potatoes with Huancaina sauce
13 plates

26 medium potatoes (new potatoes and yellow are best)
1kg of cheese (white "fresco" Mexican or Peruvian cheese works ok but you could use feta for a stronger flavor)
3/4kg, small hot peppers ( yellow aji mirisol works best but you could use yellow Mexican chili too)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2cup vegetable oil
8 soda crackers
1 onion
3 hard boiled eggs
black olives
picante pepper

boil and peel potatoes and allow to cool. in a blender, blend the cheese, peppers, milk, oil, crackers and salt.
The sauce should be fairly thick, if not add more crackers, of too thick add more milk.

slice onion in bowl and squeeze lime over top. add finely chopped picante pepper.

lay a bed of lettuce in a serving dish and place the potatoes on top. cover with the sauce. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and place the side. add black olives if desire and sprinkle with chopped parsley. add onion salad to the side.

This dish can be served slightly cold.

It was delicious! Please enjoy!!

Amber Lee
DWC Participant

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