Our common ground

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

My dear friend M decided to start a monthly tradition — a dinner party at her house, just for her girlfriends, where some new or interesting food would be prepared. The first time she made Thomas Keller’s fried chicken, from his Ad Hoc cookbook. My goodness, it was divine.

I volunteered to cook Peruvian food for the next dinner, M & I came up with a plan, a menu, and we split the cooking duties.

M knocked it out of the park with her cebiche (that’s how we spell it, btw):

It is raw fish marinated in lime juice for a few hours, served with sliced onion, sweet potatoes, corn and lettuce. So good! In Peru we also drink the milky marinade that is left, called “leche de tigre” or “tiger’s milk.”

I made some chicha morada (I am so sorry if you are Puerto Rican, my cousin who lives there told me what that means over there!) which is a refreshing drink made from purple corn:

We also had fried plantains, but I got no pics of those. Probably because each batch I made was gone by the time I was done setting the next batch in the skillet 😀

Nothing Peruvian about this, but how cool is this aerator?

A fellow Peruvian was one of the guests and she brought some dessert (more on that later) and ingredients to make the national drink of Peru, Pisco Sour:

She brought her own recipe but there are many similar ones out there, such as this one from Epicurious.

My compatriot also brought a Peruvian flag:

At this point a couple of people looked at my skirt and went, “aaaah.”

The ladies (except the momma-to-be, of course) get ready to toast with their Pisco Sours:


The main dish was Lomo Saltado, a quick stir-fry type dish that is, to me, the definition of a comfort meal. I made both beef and chicken versions:

The ladies helping themselves:

I was glad to see dishes coming back pretty empty ;D (the big pieces are leftover corn cobs):

But the best part, according to me, was dessert.

I made lucuma ice cream, and had to make two batches because if I had made just one it wouldn’t have reached M’s house intact. Lucuma is a fruit native to Peru, and the ice cream made with this fruit is the most popular flavor in Peruvian heladerias. I have heard the flavor described in many different ways, but the one I agree the most with is somewhere between a sweet potato and vanilla. In fact the texture of the ice cream is very much like a vanilla bean ice cream.

But we did not stop at one dessert – see those round cookies next to the ice cream? Thanks to our Peruvian guest, we also had alfajores, yum yum.

Alfajores, as I mentioned the last time I had them, are a dessert of Arabic origin, brought over from Spain. It is a sandwich type cookie made with shortbread dusted with powdered sugar and dulce de leche in the middle. As with many foods, the sandwich cookie is something enjoyed in various forms throughout the world, but the alfajor is definitely a favorite of mine. If you ever have the chance to try one, please do!!!

I hope you have enjoyed this little culinary experience – Peru’s cuisine is so varied that just talking about the dishes of northern coastal Peru, where my family is from, would take many, many posts, but I hope to have shared a little bit of my enthusiasm for the food of my homeland.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

2 thoughts on “Our common ground

  1. I love the dinner party idea! It’s always great to have a reason to try new things. Sometimes you just need that little push. I am part of a cooking club that is similar!

    The food and drink you made looks amazing! How long did it take you!

    1. My friend (and hostess) M made the cebiche, corn and sweet potatoes, marinading takes a few hours. The beef/chicken dishes are stir fries so very quick to cook, same as the plantains. The ice cream was an overnighter since it needs to chill but not much hands on work. It wasn’t a lot of work, really, and now I want to do a potluck later in the fall because I just loved making all this stuff. Thank you for your kind comment!

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