One of the guys that work at the hotel invited me to eat dinner with his family. His name is Pablo and he’s really nice. I was nervous about eating at someone’s house, but Pablo assured me that it was going to be a normal experience and that there was nothing to worry about. So I got dressed and met him in the lobby.
When I got to the house I saw that Pablo’s family made a special dinner for me and invited a few of their friends too. They are all so nice! Pablo’s mom told me that she would cook a typical Peruvian meal. Again, I felt nervous because I’m not used to eating food from other countries, but I was excited at the same time. The first thing she put on the table was a salad made with the biggest corn kernels I have ever seen! That was awesome. Then she brought a big plate with all these different kinds of potatoes. There were all kinds of shapes and colors: round, rectangular, twisted, hooked at the end like walking canes or spiraled like spinning tops, yellow, red, blue, purple, violet, pink with yellow spots, yellow with pink spots. I didn’t know there were so many kinds of potatoes!
Pablo’s dad said that the Europeans found the potato here in Peru when the conquistadors came in the sixteen hundreds. He also said that the Incas cultivated it in the highlands and near Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world. He also said that potatoes have been eaten in Perú for at least 8,000 years! Pablo’s sister said that their name in Quechua, the Inca language, meant “best black woman,” “best red woman,” “makes the daughter-in-law cry,” “like a deer’s white tongue,” “red shadow” and “like an old bone,” and some other names that I can’t remember right now.
She also said that scientists have classified more than 2,000 types of potatoes!! (I wonder how they remember their names!), and that there is a researcher named Carlos Ochoa who everyone calls the “Indiana Jones of the potato” who has found 80 types of wild potatoes. It was amazing to learn all this about potatoes while I was eating them!
Then they brought the main dish. It was some kind of meat I had never seen before. Honestly, it looked a bit strange to me, so I asked what it was. Pablo’s mom laughed and told me that I should try it before knowing what it was. So I took a deep breath, cut a piece and ate it. It was actually good! Then I asked her what kind of meat it was. She said “se llama cuy,”, and that it was a typical food from the Andean region. For some reason, Pablo and his sister were laughing. I asked them to tell me exactly what it was.
They said it was like a cross between a hamster and a guinea pig. I must made some sort of funny face because everyone was laughing at the table. Then I took another deep breath and said: “Well, it tastes good and I am hungry!” So I ate my cuy along with the multi colored and multi shaped potatoes and the gigantic corn kernels. That meal was definitely different! But hey, I’m supposed to try new things, right?