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Author: Michelle Lai

Michelle loves her food - street food, exotic foods, you name it. Aside from cooking and experimenting with new ingredients, she is also interested in how food and the habits of having meals are closely intertwined with culture, tradition, memory, and identity. Otherwise, while she's not doing any of the above, she would be making art and hitting the books.

Surquillo Market, Lima

lima market

I love visiting markets to get a sense, a hold of the pulse of a community and its diversity. When I visited Surquillo market near my house, out of convenience on a Saturday afternoon, I found it conveniently stocked with all sorts of fruits and fresh produce from different parts of Peru, a good part of which cannot be found outside of the country.

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The Gustu experience, and getting dizzy in La Paz, Bolivia

hibiscus papalisa salad

(Credits: Ed Stocker)

More backpacker tales: my South American adventures led me across the Peruvian border to Bolivia, where C and I sought out Gustu, tucked in the high altiplano of La Paz. We arrived in La Paz, giddy with altitude sickness, running on a tight schedule to explore La Paz; We made it to Gustu on a quiet weekday afternoon, a building with simple gray aesthetics, tucked in the residential district of Calacoto.

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Pisco hopping in Ica, Peru and a recipe

piscosour

Pisco is the renowned , celebrated brandy in Peru. I remember it as smooth, slightly smoky, and fragrant with the zing of young grapes. That Chile also lays claims to Peruvians’ beloved national drink as well, adds a political dimension that for the political scientist in me, is irresistible. But what I love about Pisco is how complex an aroma it carries. All at the same time, it manages to be mellow, light, and fragrant.

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Amaz in Lima – Amazonian cuisine

churos pishpirones

To those familiar with the cuisine found in the South East Asian jungle, Amazonian cuisine may, or may not come as a surprise. It comprises similar preparation methods and ingredients, including grilled bananas, meats and seafoods. I had just come back from Tarapoto, a city in the San Martin region, and had sampled popular dishes such as tacacho, and patarascha, which involved the grilling of meats and seafoods on heliconia leaves.

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