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…

Croakers, Grunts, Small Fry, and Sea Bass – Fish in Lima

Lima is a city of fish eaters. The advice is to eat the freshest fish of the day. But, what is it? Usually, the waiter explains that it is a local white-fleshed fish. Here is list of some of the fish I’ve seen served in restaurants here in Lima. I’m not a fisher so most of my research is from the worldwide web and my local subject matter experts (who are better than Google!). Also useful sites were the FAO and this blog.

Corvina = croaker, grunt, or drum: used for ceviche and almost everything else.
Mero = grouper: also commonly used here.
Chita = grunt: usually deep fried whole so you can eat it with your hands.
Lenguado = Dover sole: delicate fish often used to stuff with crab meat.
Cabrilla = rock sea bass: like corvina
Ojo de uva (grape eye) = sea bass: used like corvina
Charela/Cherela = weakfish (probably in the croaker family): also used like corvina
Espada (and espadilla) = swordfish (and scabbard fish): firm dry fish
Pejerrey = smelt/silverfish: Young fish or “small fry” hence why it’s usually fried.
Lisa (mujol) = mullet: But not “business in the front; party in the back” kind of mullet.
Rodaballo = turbot: A flatfish.
Trucha – trout (This name is used for smaller river fish and for the larger, orange-fleshed salmon-like fish). Keep in mind that salmon in Lima is imported from Chile.
Atun – tuna
Most of these fish names change depending on where you are fishing, and on fashion. For example, corvina sounds better than croaker. I imagine that many restaurants in English speaking places will start using corvina rather than croaker on their menus.

Trujillo in a Weekend

The city of Trujillo, an easy hour flight north of Lima, is a great weekend destination. Trujillo is called the city of eternal spring. In the depth of Lima winter, I went looking for some spring. Flying up on a Friday evening, the pickup from the airport was easily done by the hotel located on the central square. The airport is located 20 minutes from the city and you even pass one of the tourist sites on the way in — Chan Chan — before passing a modern mall and convention center.

The archaeological site of the Huaca of the Moon and the Sun is a mere 20 minutes outside of the city so easily visited. The new site called “El Brujo”, is only 63 kilometers to the north but due to the road conditions, it takes 80 minutes. I’d recommend going to these two sites in one day, with lunch in the coastal town of Huanchaco, eat at Big Ben.

Then go for a walk along the Huanchaco malecon (boardwalk – sidewalk) and take your selfies with the reed boats, “caballitos de totora” — reed horsies, so called because the fishermen ride astride the boats, instead of sitting in them. Back in Trujillo, enjoy, on Saturday evenings, the free marinera (a type of dance) performances in the main square, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Join in! Then walk down to one of the famous restaurants for dinner. The photo of the Waldorf salad is from the famous restaurant with the balcony, El Celler de Cler.

On Sunday mornings, the main square is blocked off and the town dignitaries walk about in a procession. This is a good time to get photos of the square. Later, go to Chan Chan.

When you buy pottery reproduction souvenirs, make sure that the item is stamped as a reproduction so that you aren’t accused of buying cultural patrimony. The reproductions are some of the highest quality I’ve seen, as souvenirs go.

Then back to Huanchaco for lunch. The whole malecon is shoulder to shoulder with restaurants. Try the special “aji de gallina” of this area, made with crab. Or stick to ceviche which will be some of the best you’ve had.

Then, catch your flight back to Lima.

Where to Eat Seafood in Lima

Recently, I got asked about suggestions for where to eat seafood in Lima.

_rRPWl85ctQEBjfR3ID6xU-7Dbj6o-IP9KAsNpsSoA8yLe7uFpOVSMANsrF7r6n4Yq8t_HMud6zQEfoj0MCtS3AKOn5OAKpTjqxWkpR3R9fIDbfbXAHVbqWl_zggDXcSQg38p3gXKVKcqXSc8Ln9vsbyWL3DIWRmIWIobl9Q9ixjkM5ucZaLGdZnUbDzHHhJFntFwc1q2YNT2rO6vvtyGHEBRnAUvnU

Eating seafood is an integral part of life in Lima. And no, it’s not all raw.

First, take the recommended fish of the day — it will be the freshest. Also, remember that salmon is not from Peru (in the highlands, they do have a lake trout which is similar). While they eat a lot of tuna here, it is more in the Japanese “Nikkei” style food, and most recently, in the rise of the Poke! Typical seafood dishes to try here are: ceviche (done in many ways but go with “el classico” — although now they do versions of ceviche with “pork rinds of seafood” = deep fried seafood) and tiradito (carpaccio of fish). The scallops are so tender that they’ll make you go weak at the knees (“conchas a la parmesana” is classic and resounding puts to bed any idea that seafood and cheese aren’t delicious together). Peruvians love soup of all kinds but I find many of them are too fiercely fishy for my palate. Most places will serve fish in various other styles including , “a lo macho” which is when the fish is served with manly red spicy seafood sauce — note: almost nothing in Peru is spicy like in Thailand — it’s just a touch of spice unless you eat one of the chili peppers).

Try some of these restaurants (and keep in mind that most cevicherias close at 5 p.m. or earlier as traditionally fish is only fresh for breakfast or lunch. I’m trying to think of when I’ve seen a Peruvian order ceviche at night). Lastly, Peruvians love franchising so don’t worry that many of these places are chains. I’ve listed the daytime places in relative order of “But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…” to “No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”

“But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…”

El Mercado (considered the best restaurant by many) – international star chef and this place usually ranks on the “50 Best” list. Line up at 12:15 or make a reservation.

La Mar (by Gaston Acurio) – I like this place because it’s got it all. Also good lighting for photos. Go at 12:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. if you don’t want to wait.

El Segundo Muelle (a seafood chain)

El Seniorio de Sulco (old school place that old-time Limenos go to)

Francesco (very old school)

La Red – my favorite old school place – part of the legend in making the Lima food scene so great. Also, they have a good “lomo saltado” for those who don’t eat fish. The sons of the legend opened La Isolina (located in Barranco and open at night) which also has great food, including fish.

La Preferida (this is my secret place for fettucine pasta with a creamy seafood sauce)

 

“No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”

La Picanteria – Internet famous. Good food too. One has to buy the whole fish by weight and then choose two methods of preparation. The inside of the restaurant is not scary but the location of this restaurant is in Surquillo right behind the market, so going there is probably by taxi. If you are the sort of person who visits the market (for photos and to try new fruits), then the restaurant is only two streets away (but hold your buddy’s hand when crossing the street, and look both ways).

La Leche – hidden gem in Surco and San Isidro.

Toke Pez (hole in the wall)

H8AYwE6r1TVH75RON0wZGxXzWDO2g0umUFtPL1O6utfXQfvIkAXJG2gfjZGMngLxvA5WJsKoEVpfxqPl8IgMkEbMpsZ_hmP5S-LPN6rCW4_bBUMdICBKRRTM77HfdNuBDMRkE90ZLk8cooyR2lp6ZI_2TFRKAMtv3VCumn5Ru6-yHYH1FqX6NRKoJoT9bp3a_Kz1thP1NwT0nTqQKCKnyr8prhhLOtZ

If you want to eat seafood at night (most restaurants serve fish and seafood but serving ceviche at night is a sign of a modern restaurant catering to foreigners, or moving with the times since there is this thing called refrigeration):

Pescados Capitales – a chain of high-end seafood restaurants

Las Brujas de Cachiche – open late and has everything Peruvian on the menu

Cosme (also one of those secret places not on the “50 Best” lists). Not many fish dishes but they do ceviche, tiradito, and a cooked fish of the day dish.

 

Lastly, eating seafood in Lima may spoil your ability to eat seafood in other places.

The Fish Market of Lima

MV5OWt0RjLjSqNoWHe-zzqeA3ONECsqov1N2X-ZAZQ5dnGwy62_arolE8Fk3F6DMYOUnQjayEp-JI9qCPaVjw1g0Q8ybWS6EWgesjQAbQM2-djHnzc4xfQBq1pZ8D3mIb9kcPJqKdws7VqwZiZydphp2dEEKdS95RJMKtDDta2ksnsD6oMMN4i4IFVVisiting the fish market of Lima made me miss Bourdain. But, I went in his spirit. The Terminal Pescuaro or wholesale fish market is where the restaurant owners shop for the freshest fish of the day. At 4 in the morning. The market is open from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. It’s located out in Villa Maria del Triunfo. As a foreigner, visiting any place that sounds like a drug mule name… in the middle of the night… is not a good idea.

4973k3HqTo__WIAiAUlcuMFKp1mZ2UlBjsTBrcLCqpXcsgrDMCjKwk5feLr6JIMOrsgZeoC1QMueMzRxFCgKvRvBD6NvRONLAsmamO4NKxUl4S0N-VzbrfRfHaqOexR45gSZHIPNaAHr_waqtpoVSydXA_ZI2Mf8cB5IGhU14FdbiAHie8e-MaVBDLEven though I could see from the online photos that it didn’t look like a picturesque place, I still wanted to visit. The prices are good (2 bucks for a pound of fish). Apparently, one could get some fresh ceviche in the food court above the fish terminal. That sounded fresh. Right? In order not to give my Peruvian friends extreme heart palpitations, I hired a local from Villa Maria del Triunfo to pick me up, drive me, guide me, and stay with me at all times. People said to wear rubber boots. If you have some, you could. But, then, also, wear a rain coat.

FgZRK41PctwyElVkQi7HgtsNwcnQgK6huDJLWrW-RKTGKbUjHIRtQ9qElumEVt7aMq723JAtJUebMs_G6Y6OrIAeVDIQTPHKDqcYPBmX61hgbv-M452lsy3LkhFBlFV74SmZorg5mPt7vhGtzwkxYY-WSbXHteUPUyDJx7Cy2LG-PauMtWy9dgvXXmWe arrived at 10 a.m. long after most of the fish was sold. The hall is more of a hangar and it’s a wet market with slush and ice on the floor. Trucks are parked inside and most of the fish is in blue plastic flats, some packed with ice. It’s not pretty and it smells of fish. At 10 a.m., there was still the bustle and hustle of any market, but the fish looked only slightly more exhausted than the fishmongers. Therefore, I did enjoy when one of the fishwives sashayed to me and asked me straight up, “what are you looking for?” (An aside: I kind of like it when sales folk also add a “love” or “my queen” at the end of the pitch). Another salesman jumped in and the sassy fishwife didn’t like it! She pushed him aside and they almost got into fisticuffs.

q3Ufbwsz1UYr66aqN69rAoYqZFii1BFq4nkpd56oHVuzcq6ot9e7bnFx_M7UXKR21dtWf2gYE2u0G5ntyVe3TbeNtTSJob2RWZ_LJ6gPJmlAC6IjJ9MAjZFGGjtyHe8iuCQzW7xisZmIEoN7NLu8rwDLnNT9XSm7_hdCWqlhpsmLQMayzcNbHKbVLiAs we walked around, the fish vendors went about their business and I got touched by a few dead fish along the way. Hence why you might want to wear a raincoat along with your rubber boots. I wore neither so I smelled like fish. Old fish.

When we got around to the end of the market, we saw that there were other items sold at the market as well, including limes and other items for ceviche. Afterwards, we went upstairs to eat fresh fish. When we went upstairs, we were surrounding by sharks. These sharks were ladies who swarmed around us trying to get our business at their food stall. Really pushy ladies. I liked it.

bYbteVRHDykPEdre5R-2rxB7LDZn41yJ8L8RsnlFLcJVMZTFMhqF3yomyPOZ8XJfPnF1LcUEjn7ms1l2t5vfkH9uiq-b1Y0qy6TbJ-J1tD_UwAaRglenYp9M3NP_mqRtTX3EKQCvfCYs5wlLWHfrN0a0KzLF90Tm4hzP8dLcnMDxTvPcYFwsu3lZRrAs the food court was right on top of the fish market, we naively hoped for fresh fish…. We ordered leche de tigre (the lime sauce resulting from making ceviche), chupe (soup), ceviche, and deep fried fish. All of them were fishy and I did not find them edible.

YG7vWJ9yHHlNzaPlmnFNYwiw3kXfV66axevIDe7oRIrz0z8Dh5C8GvnZkoY5VgeV1fm0yX8q0bQuG96352KeRsiD9pFL-MS-b9isLwcJomwHEOzYxvcH2N7Vz7S6nIsiCtNH1Sob-kbY3zqzNZQI7uMdumiELc_6P1sg1XpxYda3plp5JfwNIySnW4Overall, I enjoyed the outing, but I’ll write about where to get fresh fish another time. For now, go fish.

Poke – When Will It Join the Peruvian Food Scene?

tjy4-VE28VYZMiqqr9i6b1fSUYd_UkWq-zefP_sBnVaVmDbqcUT2OIM_Ov8cR_8vrFb_u1Zn5op_v9CUm-7YWov4LTeJ-UYrOtMVpPNlaKNwWsWlrcN7Zidr3JWAfy12tD5PuYOJXn113Ziz_nOYNJD1fkBVIKyXsVkYIlXl6t4R6AmjLx3FdS6SiOPoke, pronounced “poh-key”, is a Hawaiian raw fish salad, usually made with tuna. In Hawaii, this salad is made with raw tuna cubes, soy sauce, onion, garlic, sesame seed oil, and chili flakes. With endless variations.

rV-_UMIjJp_F6ZstSBqeIHcWXao9gE8TV2eVbTNfqMEutC_-fKp7lVcRoVqN1BVItiDBpa5zDoekZ3U1cIws04W9VOsGPs2kijIf12B6358Xmiv-hihKhMR40_MIDjtRWR2LMeZjm0h3Lwj9vUY1yjTgQelTlmCI8n1R1ywhD2X3puxKCUhNTH-otkPoke is similar to carpaccio (Peruvian style from Santo Domingo above), tartare salad (the one in the photo has a poached egg on top), or donburi (similar to donburi, poke is served with rice — and in Hawaii with a side of crisp iceberg salad and Korean bulgogi).

eoQRVogu0AlBd7rD15Sry4IZ7ZG86d9C2vR8xwKdRQXWKBHGKlpct8O7I-bbp5TwcNTSNmNIBFKmeWPaxRTI1Ru8etEW294PsshsJulxFYnmgsNbqNZXSngVKry34HbHsPLEGLHZYAFDJnoXDvyqy971LQOSoEWofWvsHVMOLSdjPHRSayYsgwiPpDHere in Peru, I’ve had poke in Jeronimo’s (see photo above)and I expect to see the appearance on many more menus in the future. Lima has all the necessary ingredients: fresh fish, Japanese cultural influence,  and a flourishing gastronomic scene.

Maracas Bay, Trinidad, West Indies

IMG_4476Probably the most famous outing from Port of Spain is the beach at Maracas Bay. It’s about 35 minutes outside of the city along a windy hilly road.

IMG_4468The view from the viewpoint is not the only reason to stop. There are chow stalls where you can try the famous “pineapple chow.” Chow is a dish of fruit in a brine with shadon beni (culantro) and chili peppers. They also make chow with green plums, mango, and cucumber. The pineapple is the best with its contrast of juicy sweetness, salty brine, and slight spice. All the basic electrolytes in one bite!

IMG_4460Maracas Bay is a popular beach for the locals and it’s a good place to hang out. There are lifeguards on duty, a good thing considering how fierce the waves the day we went.

IMG_4484For a foodie, the reason to go to Maracas Bay is to eat “bake and shark” or a fried fish sandwich. This sandwich was made more famous by Anthony Bourdain. The most famous place is Richard’s with the many condiments including pineapple chow. Uncle Sam’s is on the beach side and overlooks the beach. You buy the fish sandwich and then put on the condiments of your choice from garlic sauce, tamarind sauce, pepper sauce (pureed scotch bonnet peppers), slaw, pineapple chow, mayonnaise, etc. The sandwich reminds me a bit of po’ boy sandwiches.

IMG_4482

Food in Lima – A Tribute

Food in Lima. I finally created a book with some of the foods I’ve tried on my many visits to Lima these past few years. Buy it here, on Lulu, if you wish. It’s just a little book, 7×9 inches, so it will fit in a bag easily (that way I can carry it around with me).

IMG_7085

In reality, since my first visit, when I first had the classic ceviche as seen in the photo, all of my visits to Lima have been “food tours.” Some day, I’ll even get to Mistura, the food festival. I will, I will!

12764368_10153917475004618_5695026413254106707_o

 

Los Tres Ojos – The Three Eyes

IMG_4358If you want to be enchanted for a an hour or so, visit Los Tres Ojos, early on a Sunday morning. Then only the touts and tour guides will harass you on the surface.

IMG_4334Once you get down into the caves, it will just be you, a turtle, bats, fish, and lots of humidity. Pay the ferryman for the barge ride and enjoy the hidden world on the other side. With the entrance fee (up top) and the ferryman, it’s a cheap hour’s distraction. I think it was 100 pesos and 25 for the ride (2 bucks and 50 cents). Los Tres Ojos is located right off a major highway in Santo Domingo, and ten minute drive from colonial part of town.

IMG_4370There are a lot of stairs…

Having “done” this by 11 a.m., I felt quite good about going out to lunch before taking an epic siesta.

Fishing On Land in Male, Maldives

Yellow fin tuna in the Maldives.
Yellow fin tuna in the Maldives.

I didn’t go fishing in the Maldives but I did go to the fish market in the capital, Male. It was not a very large market but it was located on the wharf and the trade was brisk. Yellow fin tuna is a popular fish in the Maldives. Can you imagine swimming with a school of these fish?

Tuna being hoisted up on to the second floor.
Tuna being hoisted up on to the second floor.

Touched By A Manta Ray

True blue color therapy in the Maldives.
True blue color therapy in the Maldives.

I have never been into sand or sun or beaches but visiting the Maldives changed my mind. It seemed as if the water was not as salty as in other tropical places. But, maybe the fact that I was touched by a giant manta ray, has influenced my opinion. We paid the $48 for an outing to swim with giant manta rays, sea turtles, and fish. When we got into the water, the giant rays swam around us like a flock of kites gliding around our amateurish flailing limbs. I assumed that this was a popular feeding ground that the guides knew about and I also assumed that seeing the rays was a guarantee. Apparently it is not. So I feel even luckier. I am fairly sure that I was touched because I had stopped flailing around and was simply floating away on my back, totally ignoring the manta rays. Once I had been patted on the back by the ray, it had all my attention!

A colorful fish in the shallows.
A colorful fish in the shallows.