Well, folks, I’m in Peru. In an airport. Stealing wi-fi from Starbucks, which is across the corridor from where I’m sitting. I just finished my first meal in Peru, though it didn’t strike me as particularly Peruvian in any real sense. As soon as I went through customs, picked up my bag, changed money, and got a boarding pass for my flight to Cuzco, I headed to Café Laderia, on the second floor of the recently refurbished airport in Lima.
After struggling with the Spanish menu, a waiter gave me one in English and I ordered a Kaslik sandwich. (What or who is Kaslik? I have no idea.)
Hey, I needed sustenance for my five-hour layover following the eight-hour flight from LAX. The Kaslik was made with grilled chicken breast, bacon, organic spinach, artichoke, and candied pecans, all wrapped in a tortilla. It’s kind of absurd to recommend a single sandwich at an airport in Lima, but why not? It was good. It was also enormous. And while the bacon was a tad on the soggy side, the candied pecans, though strange, were surprisingly good -- nothing like a candied crunch with soft, salty ingredients. I’m not sure if this is a sign of what’s to come, but the regular black coffee I ordered ended up being espresso – and it really hit the spot, which is surprising, because espresso doesn’t usually do it for me.
The entire meal cost me 24 Peruvian soles, which is just over US$8. Yes, airport prices are exorbitant the world over.
As for the food I had on the plane, LAN airlines served barely passable fare: beef stew, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake. Their snack was a half sandwich that could have contained very thin sliced chicken just as easily as it could have contained shoe glue. I had no idea what I was eating but I was hungry and trusting and it was gone in no time.
The sugar and caffeine gave me the energy I needed to hoof it down to the Plaza de Armas, where I wanted to buy an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. However, the government office started their siesta at 11 and I arrived at 11:10, so I decided to explore the environs and look around for someplace I might want to have a Peruvian lunch.
The pisco sour is basically the national alcoholic beverage of Peru, and it's featured on every menu I've seen thus far. The waiter made mine with pisco alcohol (a kind of brandy made from muscat grapes), lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, ice, and egg whites to make it frothy. If it hadn't cost 10 soles ($3.50), I would have tossed more back than just the one.
On my way back to the hostal, I came across a giant dessert put together with a face at one end of it. The face gave the gigantic dessert character, but it also made it really bizarre. When I asked one of the workers at the hostal what it was for, she told me it was for a small weekend festival.