Peruvian cuisine

The flight from Lima to Cusco was full of Americans. Presumably you can get from New York or Denver to Machu Picchu and back on a week's annual leave. The man in front of me in the queue to board was wearing a smart collared shirt with "Grant & Eisenhofer: Fighting for Institutional Investors" embroidered on the front. Seriously? Not fighting for justice for Syrian refugees, or for world peace, or the end of malaria. Surely only in the US could you be so proud to be fighting for institutional investors you'd emblazon that on the front of your holiday attire.
The lady next to me on the plane, a very nice Persian American off to do the Inca Trail, showed me photos of her meals in Lima, and they did look totally amazing, both in terms of the haute cuisine food and the haute style presentation. Her favourite restaurant used a lot of rocks (volcanic and otherwise) to display its tasting menu.

I hadn't realised, but Peruvians take their food extremely seriously, considering themselves gastronomic leaders in the same way the French and the Chinese do. They aren't wrong. Lima had three restaurants in the 2016 World's 50 Best Restaurants ranking - the same number as New York and London. But the Lima candidates (which come in at numbers 4, 13 and 30) actually got the best combined score. My new friend on the plane had eaten at two of the top three (Maido and Astrid y Gaston) and was hoping to eat at the third (Central) when she got back off the Inca Trail.

I was impressed.
The day before in Lima we had been to La Casa de la Gastronomia, a museum devoted to the history of Peruvian food, and including a wonderful painting of The Last Supper, with Jesus eating roast guinea pig or cuy, a local delicacy.

The museum traced the history of food from the indiginous peoples, through the Spanish colonisers and the more recent migrants - Chinese, Japanese, other European etc. Not surprisingly, Peruvians are big on fusion. 
They are also big on potatoes. Chile and Peru disagree on which country first domesticated the wild potato (which is apparently bitter and mildly poisonous), but what we do know is that potatoes were being cultivated in the Andes in southern Peru 10,000 years ago. Peruvians claim to have 3800 different types of potato.
Sam has made good use of this culinary knowledge, claiming that his desire to eat chips with every meal is simply a wish to sample the local speciality.
You can't fault the logic.

We have eaten in some pretty swish places since we've been here, as you can see from a couple of below. As far as we know, these restaurants aren't in the World's Best 50 ranking. I fear the presentation lets them down.

lunch train station Ollentaytambo.jpg