Mucilage Never Tasted So Good – Cacao Juice

Cacao juice tastes like nectar. Indeed, the Latin name for cacao is “theobroma” or “food of the gods”.  To learn more, you can read the wikipedia entry of this blog. In Peru, this juice is called “mucilage” which is the technical term for the white pulp that surrounds the beans inside the cacao pods.

I first tried this juice at Kjolle (co-located with Central), Pia Leon’s restaurant. It was a hot summer day and sitting in the tall open sheltered space of Kjolle was a respite from the bleeping traffic outside. While Kjolle makes many other fancy drinks, this unassuming looking drink (it has a watery whitish tinge) was a revelation. It tasted a bit like lychee, mangosteen, or green apples, but had a taste all magically its own.

The other place where I have tried it was at Maido. Their version was in a Gin and Tonic cocktail. I asked if they could make me a mocktail. They did. The presentation was beautiful and their version of this drink was thicker, so more like mucilage, than at Kjolle. People remarked that it would make a good dessert. It was a longer relationship drink as well because of the thickness and richness. They served it with a side visual of theobroma and its cousin the majambo/macambo bean which is whitish in color.

Majambo can also be roasted and eaten. It has a mild nutty flavor. I first tried them at El Cacaotal in Barranco. Since I wrote the blog posting about El Cacaotal two years ago, that store has moved and blossomed. It is a lovely place to just chillax.

On a side note, a friend was planning to make some cacao juice and it made me wonder how ones does that. There is a whole process which can be read about here. As this site mentions, there is already a company that sells packaged cacao juice, so I see it becoming more and more commonplace. Having looked up a recipe on Google, I’m not sure that it entails more than extracting the fruit, maybe blending it for consistency, and then putting through a strainer (this is the method for making juice here in Latin America).

Laughter in the Time of COVID-19

In this time of quarantine, I’ve been trawling the web for funny memes (the first one may be me after a few weeks of teleworking). I include some clean ones (not sure you have enough toilet paper for the filthy ones…) here for your comic relief (I think my favorite comment so far is about the “enthusiast”). Some are thought provoking and some are just what caught my eye.

One thing I have learned from these past few days: humanity can be heartwarming at times.

 

And that Spock was right.

Listening to Grupo 5 on the Way to the Forum

Sitting in traffic, as one does, I was delighted to be distracted from the viral news of the day by my taxi driver’s choice of cumbia (he remembered that I like to listen to cumbia). A certain song with special verve came up on youtube (due to some glitch in his car stereo, this taxi driver plays songs off his phone), and I discovered a secret in plain sight — Grupo 5. This is a Peruvian cumbia band that has been around for decades. The young singer has such style and stage presence that for a few minutes I was fully into the cumbia schwang.

Also, while in traffic, I finally saw a “vanity plate” for this dog moving company. I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger deal here.

 

Markets of Lima… and Then There is Minka

I know someone whose hobby is photographing markets. In Lima, there are essentially four types of markets: wholesale food markets, local grocery markets, eco- or bio- markets (farmers), and previous “informal” markets (black market).

Wholesale markets

Santa Anita wholesale market in Ate is the source of all produce sold at the other markets in Lima. I was sure I had blogged about it but it was only in my mind. Santa Anita is about 25 minutes out side of Miraflores on a weekend. I describe it as 24 airplane hangars of produce. The prices are great if you need bulk (50 kilos of limes), but it’s not worth it if you are just shopping for personal use. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed visiting several times.

The fish market, Pescado Terminal, is the source of all fish and seafood sold in other markets and stores in Lima.

Gamarra is the textile market. Fabric at stores in San Borja can cost around 30-90 soles per meter whereas in Gamarra that same fabric will cost 6-16 soles per meter. Gamarra is also know for it’s “informal” part (they just got raided recently).

Informal Markets (but now with legal items as well like custom made cell phone covers)

Polvos Azules is the formerly known are for knock off goods and other “informal” goods. Halfway to downtown.

Polvos Rosados is the electronics and other goods market also formerly “informal” located out in Surco.

Grocery markets

The central market in downtown is a “local” market for Lima’s nine million inhabitants. It is near the old chinatown so convenient for tourist tours of downtown.

Surquillo 1 is a local market but also a central market. I still shop here as there are specialty stalls like the spice stall that other local markets do not have. The prices are better than at Wong. This is the market where the gastro tour go so there are lots of foreigners and tourists in this market. It’s gotten sort of dirty and it’s a mishmosh instead of neatly organized (meat in one area, etc.). On Sunday mornings, there is a farmers’ market outside. Lots of places to eat local food as well (and Venezuelan). The famous La Picanteria is just a few blocks behind hence why this market is part of the food tours.

Surquillo 2 is a collection of areas and not as safe as Surquillo 1.

Lince, Labotan, market is a local market for Lince. I like this market because it has zero tourists (well, me), it’s clean, organized, and covered. Plus, the area around it has many pastry industry shops.

Santa Cruz is one of the local markets for Miraflores. Exceptionally clean.

Productores in San Isidro (on the Miraflores border) is a local market for the wealthy San Isidro-Miraflores types along the malecon. There is a fish market there. One goes in to the parking lot at the San Isidro sports complex and the market is inside.

Magdalena also has a local market. As does every district/barrio.

Minka

… and then there is Minka.

This is in the words of a friend, “reason to never leave Lima.” (my photos do not do it justice. Go see for yourself).

Minka has an excellent fish market, produce market, etc., in the old style INSIDE a giant open-air California style mall. Everything under one “roof.” There are restaurants, tailors, play areas, a Metro (grocery store), cell phone stores, banks… okay, I take it back… maybe there isn’t a movie theater… nor a high end grocery store selling my imported cheese…