I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 19, 2012

San Camillo Market- Arequipa, Peru

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Lamb head soup in the morning, could that be the coffee replacer?

After spending another lovely evening in the Lima Airport, I took an early morning flight to Arequipa. Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru but has a pretty small airport. However, it is probably one of the most beautiful airports to arrive to as you step off the airplane and greeted with El Misti in the background. I arrived hungry and the last thing I ate was when I was still in Colombia and I went into food finding mode and immediately went looking for the market. 

Mucho Papas
San Camillo Market is the oldest in Arequipa and the biggest and has lots and lots of tasty food options.
The market is actually well organized and has signs hanging over head, categorizing parts of the market from meats, juices, fruits and even menudo (offal). It does not matter if you are clearly a tourist or gringo, everyone will try and sell you what they got. Some are quite convincing when I walked out with a bag of fruit or others not so much when a meat vendor tried to selling me a side of beef. When I informed her that I was visiting Arequipa and posed the question to her of where I was suppose to cook it, she lowered the price by 5 soles. 

However there is of course lots of food to eat. One thing to understand is that it is cold in the mornings so soup or adobo is a logical choice for a morning meal. Plus it is hearty and keeps you going all day. One of the specialties of the area is the cabeza de cordero sopa. Those that have not rushed to the Google translate tab I will save you the trouble that is Lamb head soup. The lamb head soup section in located on the second floor and there are about 3-4 proprietors selling this lovely soup and I went with Maria’s lamb head soup because it had the most people there. One thing I must specify is that you can pick the part of the head you want. I cannot stress this enough and I did not realize this till afterwards but thankfully, I guess she wanted to play scare the Chinito, she gave me the right jaw and the tongue. For those that are wary of eating heads, you are missing out on some great soup. The Soup and more Food after the jump!

Lamb Head soup

Lamb Head Soup, thats the jaw, tongue in there somewhere
The milky broth is extremely flavorful and expels any morning mountain chill you might have. The soup has hominy and of course the ubiquitous hunk of potato. The tongue was tender and the jaw line of the lamb had some of the lips that were a bit gelatinous but tasty overall. I know this is not for everyone, but as I was informed by the older couple I was sitting by, this stuff will keep you strong. So no more muscle milk for me!

The cheese in Arequipa is apparently quite famous so I bought a hunk of that and a couple of the Peruvian triangle bread rolls. These bread rolls are quite common in Peru and they are more crust than fill and are not really ideal for sandwich making and usually served alongside adobo or soups. The cheese is from a dairy region outside the city. The cheese has a robust smell though the flavor is a lot more subtle. Texturally, it is a semi soft cheese but leaning on the drier side, good tasting cheese and would go well with some fruit or honey.

Arequipa is close to the coast so fish here is fresh and ceviche here is good. I tired the ceviche at the Oriental. Putting aside the questionable political correctness they were making a great tasting mixed ceviche. The ceviche had bits of shrimp, calamari and a small coastal fish found on the coast that I later learned and had in Lima and called King Fish. The ceviche came with a heaping side of fried rice, roasted corn and of course a potato, sweet potato to be exact. The ceviche had a nice smoky, peppery taste and the side of fried rice soaked up with the ceviche juice tasted great. 

Ceviche with fried rice
Extra Ceviche "juice"
Of course a trip to the market would not be complete without a copious consumption of pork. Another sign of a great market is the availability of pork for morning eating. I started off light, with a chicharron sandwich. I mean this lady had a glorious mountain of fried pork belly just begging to be consumed. With just a bit of onions and mayonnaise, I needed nothing else. 

Glorious Pork Sammich

The pork was juicy and fatty, the only two words needed to describe pork. A couple of stalls over were a group of women selling parts of awesome roasted pig. The cooked pig is covered with a heavy blanket keeping the pork warm. It seems like magic when you order; they reach underneath this steaming blanket and magically pull out pieces of pork. Offering lechon to chicharron I asked one lady what was the part to get. “Kancho Claro”. The Kancho as I would roughly figure out when I ordered it was the shoulder, the boston butt. You get a tray of pork and 3 kinds of potatoes, just too again, emphasize the point that potatoes are a staple here in Peru. The regulars here at this stall bought some bread from the bread section of the market and made impromptu sandwiches. I just had it as is with my copious amount of potatoes from a sweet and regular one and another one that I incomprehensibly scribbled into my notepad. It was interesting in which it was sour and had a bready texture to it. 

Kancho=bfast of champs

The chickens here were tempting to eat, arroz con pollo was a bit much for me so I settled for the chicken and you could request all dark meat or a mix of the two. Ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise were the condiment options but the chicken was so juicy and roasted nicely you could have eaten it without any condiments and had a great tasty sandwich. 

Chicken Sammich

There are little sweets in the market besides fruits but one surprising find was the yogurt at the market. The yogurt was closer to Kefir than to Dannon yogurt and was more for drinking. Besides the richness, the flavors of yogurts they had surprised me. The strawberry and the peach did not taste artificial at all and was fresh.
San Camillo Market is worth going to if you are in Arequipa and you do not eat there. The market is a great representation of the people of Arequipa. I would highly suggest eating at the market, the food is not only good, and it is cheap in American standards. The most expensive thing I had was the Kancho, for a hefty price of 11 Soles. One US Dollars is equal to 2.70 Soles so you do the conversion math. They also have more than just food at the market which can also be a place to pick up some souvenirs as well. 

tubs of yogurt

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