Tag Archives: Living in Peru

Quinoa Oatmeal with Nutella!

nutella chocolate spread

I found this on a new blog, College Grubin’, courtesy of comment stalking Rischmöller Real Estate blog. 🙂  I am always looking for ways to jazz up my oatmeal, as it gets a little monotonous after a while of just having it with honey or some sliced fruit.  I really can’t believe I had never thought to try this, as I just can’t get enough of nutella.  But honestly, if you love the Ferrero Rocher candies, how could you not love an entire jar filled with that creamy, chocolaty, hazlenutty center?!

ferrero roceher choclates

Not going to lie - I could totally eat ALL of those in like 20 minutes. Sorry, no sharing here!

And who knows if this deliciousness would have been created were it not for WWII!  According to nutellausa.com, Nutella was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company.  At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing.  In order to make the chocolate last, he started using hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy (northwest), to extend the chocolate supply.  Ingenious!

nutella breakfast oatmeal

Photo courtesy of College Grubbin'

Now that you know a little bit more about one of my favorite spreads, lets get down to business on this recipe, if you can call it that.  All you need to do is make your oatmeal as you normally would, and once it has cooked, grab your jar of Nutella, and dig out a spoonful and mix it into your oatmeal.  Voila!

Try this!  You will love me even more than you already do.


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$12k Scholarship to Live/Volunteer in South America


Scholarships live abroad volunteer

Anyone looking for a way to help fund their trip/study/volunteer experience in South America?  Livfund is offering $12,000 in scholarships ($500 increments) in 2012 for volunteers in South America. You can find out more about the organization and the scholarship on their website:


I wish I could do this, but I suspect the fact that I have a job here would discount it.  But from reading the rules, it doesn’t sound like there are too many restrictions and you don’t necessarily have to be “young” to qualify.  So there might be hope for most you :p


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10th Annual National Mime Festival in Lima, Peru

Mime festival in Lima, PeruThey have been doing this for 1o years?!  I didn’t know these guys were that popular.  Does France know about this?  Maybe they are a silent investor? 🙂  Apparently there will be workshops and a few plays/performances.  They say all in Spanish, but they are mimes – how much “talking” will they be doing?  Is miming in Spanish any different than in English or French?

You will only find this in Lima…I don’t see people in Cusco or Iquitos really being into this.  Peru – never at a loss for surprising finds!

Why have I never seen this on the streets before?  Oh, right…probably because I live in Miraflores, which is “too good” for this sort of theater.  Or should I say “theatre”?  Must…get…there…but…trapped…in…a…box…HELP!


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10 Things To Do For Free in Lima, Peru

Found this on Wanderlust Magazine online.  Thought it was a pretty decent smattering of free things to do in Lima.

El Malecon de Miraflores

Exactly 100 years after the rediscovery of Machu Picchu, it’s a good time to peruse Peru. And you needn’t spend a single sol exploring its colonial capital.

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Breaking: Cuy is the Guest of Honor on December 18 in Lima

Guinea Pig/Cuy in Peru

Again, via Facebook at work (I am so glad that social media is part of my job description!), I discovered that the Third Cuy Festival will be happening in Lima on December 18th!  Now, when I read the title, all I read was “This coming 18th of December, Lima will have the Third Guinea Pig Festival…”; that was more than enough to get me hooked, and I clicked the link.  To my surprise (although I am not sure why I still get surprised), the link took me to a page called “Peru, passion for food”.  I was confused.  I thought this was going to be something cute, not murderous!  I should have finished reading the title, “…where more than 20 different dishes will presented using guinea pig meat.”  For those unaware, guinea pig is a common dish in Peru, primarily in the Andes.  Read my previous post if you would like to know more about it.

The article goes on to talk briefly about the reason for eating it and how long it has been used as a food sources, blah blah blah.  But at the end, it mentions that the market demand for the meat has increased beyond the traditional South American countries to also include the USA, Europe and Japan.  Really?  Japan?  They have an anime about guinea pigs…well, hamsters, but still they are related!  How could they eat Hamtaro’s cousins?!  Or ask Jack Scott, from Perking the Pansies, how he would feel eating Benny and Jet!

Hamster Anime from Japan

As I always try to remind myself: When in Rome, do as the Romans!  So, I will check out the festival and see what creative dishes they have created using cuy.  I am hoping that I will at least get a little more than I did from my first try back in February.  If you are interested, you can click here to see the site.  FYI, it is all in Spanish.


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FYI: Tap Water in Peru Makes You Gay

Tap water makes you flaming

Came across this little gem today:

Apparently, the mayor of the city of Huarmey has thoroughly researched and presented his case to the scientific community at large stating that high levels of strontium, a metal found in the local water, have the incredible power to turn you gay.  You may scoff at this accusation, but try passing through the town of Tabalosos (the source of Huarmey’s water) without bumping into a disco ball!  Due to the water, this poor town’s 14,000 male residents have all turned gay!!

Read more here and see the concern the mayor has for the self-esteem of the youth of his town.  I wonder who he knows in the filtered water industry?

Oh and P.S. ladies, this only affects men.  Somehow I have the feeling that if this was a problem afflicting only women, the mayor wouldn’t be so concerned…maybe even encourage the drinking of the tap water?

File this one under: “REALLY? Are you serious?!”

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Food Delicacy – What Does It Mean To You?

Fine Dining

Delicacy. What is that? Webster’s dictionary says that it is “the quality or state of being luxurious; something pleasing to eat that is considered rare or luxurious.” What comes to my mind when people use this word to describe food tends to be things like caviar, Kobe beef or the puffer fish. Something that is sort of unobtainable because of price and usually reserved for special splurges or occasions.

But what happens to this meaning when you travel to foreign lands? I always have a great time meeting new people and learning about their cultures and customs. We just get along swimmingly; but when it comes to food and their local “delicacies”, somehow we are no longer on the same page! I have come to learn that when people preface food with “Oh, this is a delicacy of the area!”, it really means they don’t want to tell you what the dish is because they know that you are going to be a little put off by it. Take for instance some of these “delicacies” from around the world:

Cambodia – Fried Tarantulas

Yes, just as you might imagine, these guys are sautéed and fried with a little bit of garlic and salt. Apparently, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.  Yum?

Philippines – Balut

Balut is touted as being the Filipino equivalent to the American hotdog, meaning it is ubiquitous and thoroughly enjoyed by the masses. Take a fertilized chicken or duck egg (around 17-24 weeks), boil it until the yolk leaks out followed by the fetus of the animal. Apparently you drink the liquid and chase it with the fetus. Buyer beware: Sometimes the eggs might be a little further developed, in which case you might get a beak, bones and/or feathers. Oh boy!  (No pic on this one because I find it a bit nauseating, but feel free to do a search!)

Sardinia – Casu Marzu

Are you a cheese lover? Just love the moldy goodness of a fine brie or camembert? What about the smell of Lindbergh cheese? How about a jiggily surprise? Yes, in Sardina, the cheese can wiggle-waggle just like good ol’ J-E-L-L-O. Only it’s not gelatin…it’s maggots! Apparently, introducing cheese fly (how aptly named) larvae into the cheese helps it ferment because those little buggers digest the fat. And you have to eat it while those guys are still alive because when they are dead, it has been reported to be toxic. So much so, that it has actually been banned for health reasons. Bon appetito!

Cheese in Sardinia

Now, you are probably wondering why I am talking about this. It has to do with my Thanksgiving picture from yesterday. You see, here in Peru, the guinea pig (known locally as cuy) is quite the delicacy. It seems so hard to believe that people could eat these little guys, as they are pets in the USA and Europe. But here in Peru and South America, they have been domesticated since well before the Inca; it is believed to have started around 5,000 B.C., although the earliest evidence found dates to 500 B.C. These furry friends have been a dietary staple for the Andean people for a long time and traditionally raised solely for subsistence consumption within the household.  There are still wild cuy roaming the hinterland, and they are used for other ritualistic and medicinal things.  I will talk about what and how (it is pretty interesting) in a future post.

Guinea pigs in PeruCuy are typically housed indoors and kept in the household kitchen, where they are allowed to run around freely. Most highland families keep at least 20 animals in this fashion and feed them a great variety of food such as alfalfa or a good selection of leftovers or scraps. I don’ t know if you have ever heard guinea pig squeaks before, but when there is a group of 10 or 15, it’s a little bit like being in a science fiction movie. I just feel like they are an alien species trying to communicate with me. I often have the episode from the original Star Trek series in my mind, when Captain Kirk meets the Tribbles!

Star Trek Tribbles

Now, as much as I felt bad, I decided to be bold and try a little guy. After all, it is better than fried tarantula.  You can find them totally intact, like a pig on a spit: with their little faces and feet.  The difference is that they are skinned, fried/barbecued and stuck on a stick like a giant corn dog…sans the breading. I chose to go a fancier route and had it braised and plated with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It looked like miniature lamb shanks.  It wasn’t bad, I will admit. A little greasy like duck, with a mild gamey aftertaste. The only thing is that there are plenty of bones and not much meat. I worked pretty hard to get every bit off, and I think at the end of the meal I was actually hungrier! But I gave it a try and that is what counts.

Would I call this a delicacy? No, not really.  Is it something luxurious or pleasing to eat?  Again, I don’t think so.  And it definitely is not rare.  It is pretty common here in Peru, nothing so special about it to the locals. The specialty (and thus the reason it gets to be touted as a “delicacy”) is that most foreigners view these as pets. So, by slapping on this description, the tourism industry has found a spectacular way to posh up something that will surely disappoint/sadden/appall some people.  And I am not sure how the people in Switzerland will feel about it.  They have a law that says you cannot keep just one by itself, as they are social animals.  So when one dies, you have to get at least one more to keep the other one company.  Or you can rent one from this lady.

So, just remember that the next time you are traveling and hear the word “delicacy”, be prepared…you might just be about to crunch down on some furry/gooey/squirmy goodness!

Cuy at Mistura


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Happy Thanksgiving from Peru!

A guinea pig who is thankful for not being a turkey!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately I will be missing out on the feast this year, but has not stopped me from eyeballing all the photos on Facebook from friends back home who are preparing for the army of family about to converge on a cornucopia of food.  I found this image and thought it was fitting to give a big salutation from Peru.  It is a guinea pig in a pilgrim hat, and it is significant from Peru because guinea pigs are a delicacy here…so I like to think of it as s/he is thankful for having today off while every gobbles down the turkey.  It is kind of like those Chic-fil-A ads where the cow is walking around saying “eat more chikn”!


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Photo of the Week

Apparently the Asian theme continues, as I just found these photos my friend took while she was visiting Peru. Obviously the proprietors have no idea how this sounds/looks in English…and they shouldn’t worry about it, they are in Peru, not an English speaking country. Nevertheless, it makes you chuckle a bit!

This first one my friend says: “I like to think of this as Chinese Food: Dang!”

This second one, well, all I have to say is that chickens can be a nuisance sometimes!

Chinese Restaurant in Peru

As my friend says, "I like to think of this as "Chinese Food: DANG!"

Chinese Food in Peru

Well, I mean, chickens CAN be bothersome sometimes...

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Why are we so PC?!

Why people, why?!

An interesting thing happens to political correctness (PC) once you step outside of the US: It flies out the window!  It is actually fairly freeing to know that people will not take things so seriously and you won’t have to worry about a potential lawsuit.  My first PC free experience happened to me while I was working for a financial company in New Zealand.  It was my second or third day on the job, and they were having a farewell party for one of the managers (a woman).

As is customary, the whole department was gathered round and the owner/CEO began to give the “heartfelt” speech about how much the leaving manager would be missed, etc. This is how he began: “Many of your thought I hired __y__ because she is hot and I just wanted to get her in bed, well, that is not completely untrue…”, which was followed by howling laughter by all. Okay, can we just take a moment?  Here I was, fresh out of college and off an internship in HR, and what appears to be a scene from the countless sexual harassment videos I showed/presented in trainings, is playing out in front of me in real life.

The rest of the speech was pretty standard and when he finished, the the leaving manager took over and said: “Thank you, __x__. I always knew you were a dreamer; I just didn’t know how big of a fantasy you were in when you hired me!”  She continued for a few more minutes and after she finished, we cut the cake and got back to work.  No one was concerned about this display; everyone was talking about how much they were going to miss the departing manager, etc. but not one person seemed to be put off by this blatant sexual reference.  And as time went on, I encountered more examples of jokes, and such, that definitely would not have flown back in the US.  Everyone kept telling me to lighten up and have fun and as much as I wanted to, I told them I couldn’t get comfortable doing that because if I said something like this back home, I’d be in a world of trouble!  But how liberating it was to be able to laugh at things knowing that everyone else knew it was just a joke!

As I continued to travel to other countries, I continued to encounter this and it was just as refreshing.  But as I have gone from Anglo cultures to more Latin, the focus has shifted slightly to where it is now mildly shocking again!  Here in Peru, you can call people who are your friends (or not) as “Chino“, and not by their actual name.  Basically it equates to calling them Chinese.  Take this recent example that a friend of mine actually said this past weekend (translated into English, of course):  “Hey Chinese guy, do you know how to get to Pardo street from here?”  They guy smiled and gave us directions and we went on our way.  They also say it about “white” people, too.  Gringo can be used to refer to a foreigner, but they also use it to call Peruvians who are light skinned or girls/women who have died their hair blonde.  And they call skinny people “flaco“.  I sort of like to translate that one into “Slim!” but I like to imagine it being said from Berta on Two and a Half Men…just seems like something she would say, “Hey Slim! I ain’t cleanin’ that up.”

Anyway, as you might imagine, the civil liberties groups would be all over this back home!   There are some English teachers here trying to teach kids/adults that you can’t refer to someone like that when you talk with foreigners.  But my friends have told me it is like in one ear and out the other.  The students don’t understand why it is bad, because here it is not bad or meant in an ill way.

Okay, I get it.  Fine.  But what do you think about this:  As I was walking to the park the other day I noticed, for the first time, the sign above this laundromat:

Laundromat in Lima, Peru

I have walked passed this laundromat countless times, but for some reason only saw this now!  When could you get away with doing this?  I am going to say probably up until the late 80s, if I base my hypothesis off of movies from that decade compared to the 90’s and now.  I will just point you towards all the Police Academy movies, Leslie Nielsen stuff, and Rodney Dangerfield.  May they rest in (humorous) peace.

So I ask you, what is the point of being PC?  Can we not take a lesson from the rest of the world and realize that things are said in jest, and not always be so uptight?  Now, I thought I had seen quite a lot, but after seeing this laundromat, I am reminded that my PC-ness is probably never going to go away.  While I do think this photo is a bit over-the-top, I do believe that it was not done so with any ill-will.  And I will say that all of my Asian Peruvian friends do not have a problem with it.  In fact, they think it is amusing.

Who can say, truly, what is right and what is wrong.  So much of it is about the culture and can one culture really ever dictate what another should or should not do?  I know that there are great many things in the world that I would like to believe have a “global” moral compass that all cultures should follow, but again, who am I to say so?  The one thing that I do take away from all of this, though, is that these other cultures really seem to uphold the idea of “free speech” much better than the USA does; they are not worried about every minor little thing, and whether it hurts a few people’s feelings.  Although, I guess when you have bigger social issues, maybe other things don’t seem quite as important.

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