There is a lot of meat in the Andes. I mean A LOT. Almost every dish has some meat in it. I would guess that being vegetarian might get repetitive if one is forced to choose off of a typical menu. That said, there are some good non-meat dishes to be found.
First off, a delicious creamy quinoa soup. I’d been looking for one of these and I’m glad we found one. Potatoes, greens, quinoa, pepper – a great way to fill a belly and warm up on a chilly Andean afternoon.
Being the birthplace of potatoes, these tubers feature highly in both meat and non-meat dishes. Two of my favourite dishes are centered around potatoes. I’ve already talked about one – papas rellenas, or stuffed potatoes. I want to include another picture here just to show how very ubiquitous they are. These potatoes were bought on the street for our lunch one day and cost us about 50 cents. And they were delicious.
The other dish is papas huancainas. There isn’t really a translation for this dish (Huancayan potatoes?), that’s just their name. We were pretty close to Huancaya in the south (it’s up in the mountains near Ayacucho), so we had them as close as could to their origin. Another creamy sauce made with the yellow ají pepper covering potatoes, it’s simple and usually served as an appetizer.
Stuffed avocados were a delicious surprise that we may continue to make. Really, all it is is chicken salad (or shrimp salad on the coast, yum yum) on half of a peeled, slightly underripe avocado (a very ripe one would be too soft and gooey). Another great appetizer or light lunch.
Lastly, the simple Peruvian breakfast we found at a market in Ayacucho was meat-free. Carb-heavy for a long day, it was filling and hot and definitely different – rice, fries, and an egg. While we ate, we talked with the other people around the table about how breakfast is different in North America. Buy food, get culture. That’s what we’re here to do!