From Food to Dance, Peru Paints a Colorful Picture

Day 14, 2023 Grand South America and Antarctica

Friday, Oct. 20, 2023; Lima, Peru

How much can one person eat in a day? I put that question to the test today on another foodie tour. We had a great traditional Peruvian lunch, and less than an hour later stopped for a “snack” that could have been my main meal on any other day. Needless to say, I didn’t go to dinner tonight.

However, I did go to the performance in the World Stage by a group of local musicians and dancers that may have been the best entertainment I have seen on a Holland America ship. Entitled “Un Peru Para Todas,” or One Peru for All, the show featured a “festival of music and folk dances, leading us to an imaginary journey through the three natural regions of Peru – the coast, the mountains and the jungle.”

It was high energy, modern, fun and traditional all at once. Fortunately, there were two performances tonight, so I hope that everyone on this cruise experienced the magical evening.

Callao is the port for Lima, and given the traffic in the city of 12 million, going anywhere seems to take 45 minutes. This morning we left promptly at 8. And may I digress to say that everyone has been punctual on all my tours. When your ticket says to be in the World Theater by 7:50 a.m., you can bet that at 7:50 the group will be leaving. So I’ve learned to be 10 minutes early. It’s also refreshing that at every stop and break, everyone is already back on the bus at the assigned time. Bravo!

Our relatively small group of 20 stopped first at the large Minka Market, buried within a huge outdoor shopping mall. I saw signs for H&M, Sketchers, even Starbucks, but we moved quickly to the enclosed market, starting with produce, featuring a heavy dose of various chiles. I’ll just let the photos tell the story.

It was similar to my previous market experience in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with the exception of the potato aisle. Peru considers itself a potato capital, and there are thousands of varieties. It seems potatoes in various preparations are part of every meal here.

We then worked our way through meat and seafood. Peru is blessed with abundant and varied seafood due to the cold Humboldt current that comes up from Antarctica. But I will pass on the guinea pigs, which are popular in the mountains.

Our next stop was the restaurant Señorio de Sulco in the tony Miraflores district of Lima, with a view of the Pacific Ocean. The skies were cloudy, as they almost always are here our guide Maria told us. However, she said it never rains. The coastal region is narrow and the clouds from the cool water are trapped by the nearby Andes. Even though we are near the equator, the temperature only reached the low 70s.

The restaurant’s executive chef prepared samples of our traditional courses — ceviche (or cebiche as they call it), causa rellena (potato and shredded chicken with avocado) and lomo saltado (a wonderful stir-fried beef with rice and – of course – french-fried potatoes). Dessert was a donut-like fried sweet potato with a honey sauce. And of course we had Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru, which came with quite a wallop!

Now, when all most of us wanted was a nap, we toured the city on the way to an older section of town with many Italian restaurants, or resto-bars as they are called here. We stopped at Queirolo Tavern for a typical afternoon snack — a ham sandwich and generous plates of cheese, ham, sausage and olives for sharing. I couldn’t pass on a Peruvian beer, but it certainly put me over the top for a nap in the bus on the way back to the ship.

I was glad I attended the early show tonight — by the late show I was already in bed. Tomorrow brings another early tour – this time a more general tour of the city.