Surquillo Market, Lima

lima market

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.

Potatoes, flour, seeds, nuts, vegetables, everything – assaults my senses from every direction. Cacao from the Amazon, Pacai, a fruit curiously shaped like a giant long bean, with flesh of cotton wool texture. Seagrapes, freshly harvested from the Pacific Ocean. I took a few and popped it into my mouth – the texture surprises me, its delicate skin bursting in my mouth.  Among my favourites, are the custard apples, Chirimoya, which I often blend with ice and some pisco, to create a thick, sleep-inducing smoothie that winds me down from a long day navigating the City of Kings. A favourite is Lucuma, a custard-like fruit,  that is used in ice creams. I find myself picking up and scrutinising a potato – amongst the potato piles. the small , pebble  like potatoes, papalisa, catch my attention with its flourescent pink dots and a white centre, reminding me of Japanese daikon radish.

I am fascinated by everything, as a curious traveller often is when assaulted by the myriad of produce. The vendor at the fruit stand looks bored but still entertains all my queries about other fruits – ‘What is this?’, I ask for the umpteenth time, gesticulating for added measure. She is amused and very slightly annoyed, but I am not bothered. I cycle down to the farmer’s market around the corner. It is held at the nearby Parque Reducto, every Saturday. I planned to get some fresh milk – and sample from the huge offerings of of Andean cheeses along the way. Although vastly different in varieties, the stirring of people, wafts of espresso, I am vaguely reminded of the markets back home.

Dubbed the Boulevard of Gourmet Produce – the market is a must-stop on the tourist trail as well and a great introduction to the world of Peruvian gastronomy. For me, it also replaces the supermarket as a personal favourite to grocery shop, chat with the vendors, and grab some fresh flowers to brighten up the home.

Michelle Lai

About 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.