As my family back home was eating our annual clam-bake, I was enjoying Peru’s version: Pachamanca. The traditional Andean dish is cooked in the ground “la tierra” over stones that have been heated by a fire. After surrounding the chicken, guinea pig (yes…I repeat, guinea pig), potatos and corn with bamboo leaves that kept the food clean, a tarp followed by soil created a sealed earth oven.
Our group was lucky enough to see every step of the process at Topara Organico, the first certified organic farm in Peru. The farm’s founder, Klaus Bederski, gave us a tour around the grounds and after two and a half hours or so, our Pachamanca had finished cooking. It was my first time trying guinea pig, known as “cuy (ku-wi)” in Peru. Despite a lot of bones, the meat was tasty and different from other meats I’ve tried. I don’t know if I would order it everyday but it was definitely something to experience here. The chicken was delicious, both succulent and meaty; it really does make a difference in the taste when something is being slow-cooked! Still, my favorite had to be the sweet potatoes, a common peruvian food that I have enjoyed day in and day out of my time here. The rest of the plate seen in the photo came fresh from the topara farm: avocados “paltas”, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. It was a deliciously filling lunch and as an entire meal, Pachamanca proves to be one of my best yet.