Chicharron – Chicken Fried

On a Friday morning, or actually any morning, I hear the delightful anticipation as Limenos get ready for “chicharron “day. Chicharron translates to pork skin or crackling. In Peru, a “pan chicharron” is a sandwich, but with more than just crackling, as it actually is a “pork roast sandwich”. The sandwich is a fresh white bun with slices of pork roast including the crackling, deep fried sweet potato slices, and “sarza criolla” and spicy mayonnaise. “Sarza criolla” is “salsa criolla” or “creole sauce” which in Peru is thinly sliced red onion dressed in lime juice. So not a sauce at all! But it is a “dressing” for the sandwich. The spicy mayonnaise is made from a thin mayonnaise (more like a salad dressing in consistency than a spreadable mayonnaise) mixed with a Peruvian chili sauce (or pureed chilis).

“Chicharron” is also used to refer to anything that is batter fried. In the U.S., dishes are often called “chicken fried” when referring to batter fried as in “chicken fried steak” In Peru, “chicharron de pescado” or “fish pork cracklin” is batter fried fish. Anything can be a “chicharron” but when not pork, it’s usually used about fish. The trend at many restaurants is to top off a ceviche or leche de tigre with a few pieces of “fish crackling.” Or one can simply order the “fish crackling” on their own (as in the photo from La Leche, where they serve the fish crackling with fried yucca, making it “fish ‘n chips”).

When Tea is Lunch – Meal Times in Lima

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A breakfast sandwich of “pan chicharron” or pork roast and sweet potato.

Meal times are slightly different in Lima. For breakfast, Limenos eat a sandwich and cup of coffee for breakfast (desayuno), in the 7-9 times frame. Like the Colombians, they don’t eat sweets early in the morning so the idea of pancakes in the morning is an odd idea to them. Then, a cafecito (everything is ‘ito”in Lima) later in the morning (the Brits have “elevenses” at 11 a.m.) and in Lima coffee is always served with a mini-cookie.

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Ceviche – only for lunch!

Lunch (almuerzo) is from 1-2:30 p.m. (12 for those who work early shifts) and usually includes rice, protein, salad, and soup and/or a side dish — and don’t forget that potatoes are a vegetable.

Then, from 4-6 p.m., when the cold tea-time cold winds move in, there is “lonche” — a version of the word “lunch” — which involves something warm to drink like tea, coffee, chocolate, plus a sandwich. The sandwiches are usually the triangular shaped sandwiches like large British tea sandwiches. It’s the local version of high tea.

Dinner (cena) is from 8-10 p.m. which means that many restaurant do not even open until 7:30 p.m.

Note: Knowing the meal times can help you get in without a reservation.