The Tango Goddess suggested that we meet at Buenos Aires Verde for lunch last week. It’s a sweet little organic cafe that opened after we left in December.
The last two days of our trip were spent in Lima, Peru’s capital. I normally like to find the positive in every city’s character, but I found Lima to be gray and dodgy with a negative energy. There is a very lonely and dangerous element there.
Still, there are some sweeter aspects of the city.
I have the homesick blues recently because of the cold weather and gloomy gray of Santiago. I thought it would be fun to describe the things I miss from my pre-expat lifestyle.
Some things I miss most about the United States include:
I’ve made due without a lot of them. For instance, E. and I started making peanut butter to get a PB&J fix. Without some of the processed food fallbacks we were using before the move, I’ve actually learned how to cook better by using whole foods like beans in place of soy meat.
Also, I have been fine without these things for a year and a half. It’s not a tragedy that I live without them.
Are there any customs or foods that you would miss if you left your country for an extended period?
If you are an expat, what do you miss about your native country right now?
Cusco is the doorway to see Peru’s Sacred Valley. It’s a lovely town that serves mostly as a tourist base for the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.
On the way to the Sacred Valley, we zipped through the town, intent on arriving at Ollantaytambo that day. It is suggested to travel to the Sacred Valley upon arrival in order to prevent altitude sickness since the valley is lower than Cusco.
Our trip got a little complicated when we descended Machu Picchu to the town of Aguas Calientes. Farmers were striking on account of the government’s privitization of water and had decided to block the Perurail train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. This was a problem because the only way to get tourists out is by train. Farmers often demonstrate their frustrations to the government by damaging the tourist economy since it makes such an impact in Peru.
We were able to take a rescheduled train late into the night to Ollantaytambo. The strike was happening in earnest the next day–the day we needed to get to Cusco, so it was tough finding a ride. Protestors were placing rocks in the road, and there was a human block in the road outside of Cusco. No cars or buses could pass.
We just returned from a week visiting Peru—the sacred valley of the Incas and the cities of Cusco and Lima. It had always been a dream of mine to see Machu Picchu, but for some reason I never thought I would be able to see it. I never “saw” myself there. We went, and it was a successful trip even though a farmers strike almost prevented us from getting back to Cusco.
The above and below snow covered mountain is called Veronica.
The sacred valley is about an hour and a half from the city of Cusco. We took a flight from Santiago to Lima and then bounced to Cusco the same day. It was tiring, but E. and I didn’t want to waste any time.
So I just found out that my Grandma has been reading my posts. Hi Grandma!
Since I’ve been learning more about cooking in the past year, I decided to make some regional specialties. In one my first tutoring sessions, I told my Spanish prof that I am a foodie. She brought me a little recipe book from the local supermarket chain “Lider.” The book is so great because it highlights typical Chilean dishes like Pastel de Choclo (a casserole with ground, cooked corn, olives, hard boiled eggs, and meat or eggplant), and Guiso de Zapallo, which is a casserole with butternut squash and fresh basil. E. and I don’t usually make casseroles because they can be so unhealthy and cheese centered. I decided to make this guiso as a change of pace.
This recipe has been altered to make it as healthy as possible. It originally called for a half cup milk and a half cup cream. I used one cup skim overall. You are welcome to use the cream if you’d like a rich final product.
I don’t know much about gardening. My mom has always had a green thumb, kind of like Mad Faffer. My grandparents also tended to a huge garden and fruit orchard in their back yard, but my sisters and I were never expected to cultivate the vegetables and fruits–only to pick them. The only way in which my grandparents spoiled us was with the amount of canned fruits, vegetables, and jams they gave us. (Not to mention my grandma’s otherworldly fruit pies.) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more interested in gardening. If E. and I had a yard, I think we would start a humble huerto with at least carrots and potatoes.
Today, I attended a small organic garden fair hosted by Huerto Orgánico Hada Verde.