Let’s Float Down to Peru
LET’S FLOAT DOWN TO PERU
In Frank Sinatra’s song “Come Fly With Me,” the second verse starts with:
Come fly with me, lets float down to Peru
In llama land, there’s a one man band
And he’ll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, well float down in the blue
While no one-man band was in evidence, and the only llama I saw was in the picture of Machu Picchu above, there was music and dancing in Lima. And the food is as good as they say.
Lima, Peru, is a city of around 8 million, containing about a third of the population of Peru. Located on the Pacific coast, the shoreline is beautiful, with various features, including wharf-side restaurants along the piers. The weather was mild, though the locals would call it cold. It was in the 50s-60s, but it was moving into their Winter, after all, as Peru falls south of the Equator, between Ecuador and Chile. But Peru is famous for a few things, even over its neighbors.
First is the food. I’d been told about how fabulous the food was. And indeed, though I was only in Lima for a couple of days, the food was outstanding. A variety of fresh ingredients made the dishes exceptional. There were a variety of corn dishes, from purple corn pudding dessert to large kernel roasted as appetizers, a kind of “corn nut,” essentially an un-popped roasted corn kernel. The potatoes — originally brought back to Spain by Francisco Pizarro from this part of the New World and only later promoted as a food staple in Ireland and other parts of the Old World by people like Sir Walter Raleigh — were of such incredible variety. And the seafood… well!
Being right on the coast, one evening, I had a lovely meal of swordfish wrapped in prosciutto atop garbanzo beans and avocado.
And another fabulous meal was at the Astrid & Gaston Restaurant of camarones, or shrimp. Started in 1994 by Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio (often called the leader of Peruvian cuisine) and his wife Astrid, both Paris-trained at the Cordon Bleu, the food was terrific and the service spot on. As you can see, the presentation was as good as the serving.
Secondly, Peru is known for its dance. Not only indigenous, native origin dances related to agriculture, hunting, and courtship, but also other dances influenced by parts of the Old World. I witnessed half a dozen dance styles one night at a dinner theater accompanied by traditional Peruvian food and music. Here are some pictures.
The first is Afro-Peruvian dancing:
Next is a series of traditional courtship dances:
Finally, the so-called “scissor dance”:
Peru is attracting lots of tourists at this time. The beautiful church along Kennedy Park in the center of town faces a lovely place for a promenade.
Street merchants, photo displays, and lush surroundings make it an attractive location. Most of the finest restaurants are found nearby. This is also a shopping destination as well as a food magnet. While there is a McDonald’s Restaurant here, not far from it, is Bembos, a local chain that is more popular with the locals, offering a variety of gourmet burgers. They can only be found in Peru. And behind the restaurant can be located a fleet of motorcycles. They deliver.
Beyond Lima, a variety of trekking tourism flourishes, particularly for those interested in climbing in the Andes Mountains, to Macchu Picchu (Old Mountain), for example, as pictured at the top. This is a beautiful depiction of the Inca civilization. Known as “the Lost City of the Incas,” although originally built in the mid-15th century, it was abandoned about a century later, around the time of the Spanish conquest of the Incas — though the Spanish never found this city — and not “discovered” again until 1911.
Larcomar Shopping Center in the Miraflores district is located right along the coast and overlooks the shoreline. An open gallery of several stores on many levels glistens in the night. It is a collection of over 80 high-end shops with everything from luxury chocolates and cigars to sushi and dim sum restaurants. It boasts an extensive game arcade, a cinema, live theater, and an authentic Peruvian dinner theater La Dama Juana. It is here that I caught the dances mentioned above.
Miraflores is one of the city’s more affluent areas, with luxury hotels like the Miraflores Park Hotel with its 11th-floor restaurant and swimming pool. The heart of the business center is found in the San Isidro district. Considerable amounts of new construction are going on, with cranes seemingly everywhere. Navigation is a challenge, parking even more so.
Finally, Peru is known for its mining. Gold, silver, and copper mining are particularly popular. On the flight down, I sat next to a financial manager for a gold mine. Silver shops in Lima are a huge draw for tourists with very reasonably priced products. Oh, and oil. I flew back with a petroleum engineer. Both oil products and natural gas are brought across the Andes by pipeline. The natural gas is liquefied and put on boats off the coast of Lima.
As I flew out on the red eye, my last view of Peru was like a jewel, strung out like a string of pearls.
Thanks for coming along.
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Thank you, Bill, for writing that very nice article about Lima, Peru. I am a Limenean born, living in the USA for 20 years, and I have found your comments extremely nice. Lately, I have read several articles about how the peruvian cuisine is rising as one of the best on the world.
Thanks again, Jose.
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