Wednesday, June 1, 2011
In southern Peru, the ruins of Machu Picchu sit high on a mountain ridge, fairly intact for a 15th-century relic. In Union Square, Somerville, Machu Picchu sits on Somerville Avenue, a roomy restaurant offering an authentic taste of Peru — complete with Andean music (and not just flutes).
Peruvian food relies on a few staple crops — corn and potatoes, especially — and is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, so most of the ingredients at Machu Picchu are familiar, but the dishes themselves tend toward strange combinations I haven’t encountered before. Bisteck A Lo Pobre, for example, consists of steak with fried plantains and a sunny side up egg… and french fries… and rice. Palta Primavera features avocado halves, filled with chicken salad. A few less common cuts of meat, like beef heart and tripe, make an appearance. Perhaps the most surprising section of the menu is the page that is vaguely Chinese-influenced. Several dishes are described as Chinese-Peruvian fried rice. Another choice features spaghetti and soy sauce. Later, I learned that these dishes are examples of a cuisine called Chifa — what 20th and 21st century Chinese immigrants created with the Peruvian ingredients available to them.
Read the rest of my article over on CBS Boston.