Monday, 6 April 2020

Memories of Peru In My Kitchen

 I thought I would share some of our happy experiences in Peru and Chile with you, as part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Sherry's Pickings. Some photos are from my kitchen, and some are taken in Peru. When we travel we don't take really large suitcases because we have to hump them around ourselves, and we don't buy a lot of gifts for others or mementos for ourselves anymore either as really we don't need a lot of extra stuff anymore. Having said that, a few purchases were made.

This photo is of happy times for us taken at Machu Pichu on a cloudy and wet day, with these amazing cloud shrouded peaks in the background. Of course it's a mistake to think that all there is to Peru is the magical, mysterious Machu Picchu. The Lost City of the Inca is, of course, a standout and never fails to disappoint, but there is more to this land of hidden treasures, and its intriguing people.

We arrived home from our travels to Chile, the Falkland Islands and Peru on 3rd March, 2020, after travelling for 7 weeks. To this very day Mr. HRK and I feel so relieved that we were due to 
fly home from Peru via Chile when we did. When we were travelling we only watched a minimum of British and U.S. television and as far as we were aware at that stage Covid-19 was at pandemic levels in China, with some cases in Great Britain and the U.S. and that Australians were being told to be cautious. On our flights home some people were wearing masks, and as our daughter is a health care worker she was already worried about the Australian situation and encouraged us to wear masks. We went shopping for  masks in Arequipa in Peru but by that stage there were none available. Obviously the population in Peru was on alert by then, but this wasn't being communicated to us. We didn't realise that Covid-19 had the foothold in Peru that it did. The situation escalated very quickly. Thankfully it wasn't peak season for tourists in South America, and most of our tours had a maximum of only four people. Also we missed a couple of tours in our second week because of illness, confined to our hotel room for three days,which in hindsight I look on as possibly a good thing as far as exposure to Covid-19 was concerned. Anyway, on arriving home we self isolated for two weeks, were tested for the virus,  and not a lot has changed for us with all of the restrictions still now in place.

I do like a nice tablecloth and you can't have too many as far as I am concerned. The fabrics and designs in Peru are so colourful and interesting. We bought this one in Pisaq, in a small shop in a laneway off the main street, and after I had gone back a couple of times I bought it for what I thought was a reasonable price however it is so difficult to negotiate when the shopkeeper doesn't speak much English and we don't speak Spanish. We paid 135 sol, which now is approx. $65.00 with the Australian dollar taking a nosedive, it cost less then, but everything is costed for you in American dollars when purchasing so the mental calculation required can be challenging. Anyway I really liked it, and as we were in a hurry because the bus was waiting for us, we bought it and rushed for the bus. Mr. HRK felt we had paid too much for it so his mission then was to find another tablecloth for less, to average out the cost more. Which he did. 

I really liked the pattern, which features the ubiquitous PACHEMAMA. She is the Goddess revered by the indigenous people and is known as the earth mother. In Incan mythology, she is also the fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting, embodies the mountains, and presumably causes earthquakes. So this lady has many roles and is represented everywhere. I thought it was appropriate to buy a tablecloth with her symbol embroidered on the cloth and a few Llamas as well.

A brown Llama and an Alpaca. All very photogenic.
Because I couldn't bring a beautiful Llama  home to keep I had to buy one. Llamas are related to the camel and are the oldest domesticated animal in the world.The black Llamas are the most revered in Peru. Llamas have much longer necks and are generally larger than their cousins the Alpacas, which are prized for their wool.
 My very friendly alpaca, and so very cute

A Llama

Tourists feeding the  shaggy Llamas

Their smaller fluffier cousins are the Alpacas, in this photo below. I hope I've got this right about who is who.

This was the very colorful second tablecloth that thrifty Mr. HRK bought at Yucay, from a lady selling them at a table near the restaurant where we had lunch.  He bought this one for 80 Sola or 38 Australian dollars, so that averaged the price out for tablecloths and he walked away very happy with his purchase. All of the vibrant colours are typical of many garments and merchandise on sale in Peru.

I found these  colourful Ceviche Oven mits in a shop near Machu Pichu which are now in my kitchen. I was quite taken with them and they were very reasonably priced I thought. I didn't eat any Ceviche in Peru, but I did in Chile at Valparaiso and it was fresh and delicious with zingy flavours. The Chileans and the Argentinians have constant verbal battles about who makes the best Ceviche. I haven't tried one made in Argentina, but the one I had in Vaparaiso would be very hard to beat.

Mr. HRK bought this vibrant wall hanging for me on the floating islands at Lake Titicaca which was one of the tours I missed due to illness. He was feeling sorry for me for missing the tour so it was a lovely surprise when he arrived back at the hotel in Puno with this.  Pachemama is featured prominently on this one as well. He watched the local women actually weave this one so that was very special for him, as a lot of the work over there is now manufactured commercially on machines. Weaving is the stuff of life for many of the women here, with the traditional patterns holding the keys to the stories of the native people. It's important that tourists learn all about the ancient techniques of weaving first hand, and help to support its preservation.

If you are into fashion, these local Uros ladies on the floating island at Lake Titicaca were dressed up beautifully for the tourists.

In Peru, altitude sickness at 3,500 feet and higher debilitates many tourists, however luckily I had sought out  Prescription tablets from my GP which prevented the more serious side effects but breathlessness when we arrived in Cusco  made some activities  quite difficult. Unfortunately it also affected our appetite, something I wasn't prepared for. On arrival at any of the hotels, the travel guides and hotel staff encouraged us to drink Muna tea or Coca tea to help with altitude sickness. It was okay for the first couple of days and then all I wanted was a nice cup of English breakfast black tea, which wasn't to be found anywhere. When in Peru do as the Peruvians do I suppose but we soon realised that too much of these aromatic teas causes sleepnessness as well, even though they supposedly helped with the altitude sickness. Mr. HRK really liked the tea though and drank them for the whole time we were there. I became a bit tired of it and moved onto Camomile and other herbals after a while.

We were also given very freshly picked aromatic herbal teas as well when on tour, and this one was very nice.

I would have bought one of these mugs if I had seen them for sale.

Potatoes, corn and quinoa are the staple crops grown in Peru. In Chile and Peru, a bowl of roasted corn seasoned with salt was generally placed on our table to nibble on before a meal. This corn is very different to our corn being a larger variety. Peru boasts thousands of different varieties of potatoes that they grow, and have for centuries. Obviously every meal served has potato, quinoa or corn embedded in it somehow. Because quinoa has recently become so popular in western cultures, it has become expensive in South America for the locals to buy as well unless they can grow their own. This is quite sad really, because it was always such a staple for the poor people who are struggling now to afford it. It used to be so plentiful there that they fed the chickens with it.

Travelling to Cusco in Peru through the beautiful sacred valley

Altitude here is 4,335 feet. It's enough to make you breathless.
 If you are into Ruins - We were told this is the highest existing Incan ruin in South America

Back home in my garden, self seeded Birds Eye Chilli bushes were a surprise.

 We have three bushes growing at the moment, all extremely healthy and prolific but all self seeded. I've frozen a lot of the chillis for my future batches of Sweet Chilli Jam and chutneys, as these are the old fashioned variety of chilli not easily found in the supermarkets now. I think the birds must have spread the seeds for these to grow as the birds love them.

Happy days at home to you all.

Best wishes



  1. Thank you for sharing those beautiful memories and photos of Chile and Peru. They are exotic and amazing! I love that tablecloth too.

    1. Thanks Angie. A third world country makes for interesting travel.

  2. It sounds like a wonderful trip. I’m so glad you were able to come home before COVID-19 situation turned worse.

    1. Thanks Nil it is a relief to be home. Please take care over there, it sounds really serious.

  3. Pauline, thank heavens you got back home when you did and to think I had been considering travelling to Scotland to meet relatives this year. I love those colourful fabrics the locals make over in Peru. What a wonderful trip you both had!

    1. Thanks Chel,we feel very fortunate to have timed our trip so well. I feel really sad for the Peruvians now though coping with the pandemic during such difficult times in a poor third world country.

  4. very lucky that you made it back in time pauline before the restrictions came into place. how scary it all is now, especially for people who haven't been able to get back home. thanks for sharing your memories. love the embroidered hanging, and those lovely colourful tablecloths. looks like you had a fab time. keep well and thanks for joining in this month. cheers sherry

    1. Thanks Sherry, it can be tricky deciding what to actually buy on a trip like that, but I'm so pleased we now have such nice mementos and memories. Not in a hurry to travel again though. Take care, Pauline

  5. Your timing was so lucky! The textile arts you depicted are fabulous. I have always loved that type of weaving, but never seen such a wonderful variety of patterns and colors.

    be well... mae at

    1. Thanks Mae, the textile arts are quite unique aren't they. When you are there the only problem is there are so many to choose from, but once the decision was mad we just had to carry them home. Stay well,Pauline.

  6. what a wonderful post Pauline, so many memories created and gorgeous sights and sites seen...I have very itchy feet atm! xxx stay safe

  7. Thanks Sue, I hope your itchy feet aren't giving you too much trouble as I'm afraid we are all staying put for a while :) Strangely I am so thankful to be home, that I don't have itchy feet at all except to see my children. Stay well, Pauline xx

  8. Lucky you to have been able to enjoy your holiday and get home just in time. The fabrics are lovely, so colorful and cheerful. And thank you for the lesson, llamas vs alpacas.

    Wonderful post and diary of your travels, thank you.


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