15 April 2011
Sometimes, after a long day walking around a vast city on sore feet all you want is something simple to make you feel warm and cozy and happy.
Lima is a complicated city, a city that defies easy explanation. It's a city that is neither Northern enough nor far enough South, far removed from the Andean highlands and the deep Amazonian jungle that cover most of Peru's landmass, colder and greyer than the rest of the continent and frequently racked with massive earthquakes. It is, as Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, "the strangest, saddest city thou can'st see." Strange and sad and you can't see it when most mornings and late afternoons it's covered in a thick blanket of fog.
This afternoon, after S and I toured the sights of the Plaza de Armas and marvelled the fascinating (mostly erotic - !) pottery at the Museo Larco, cold fog rolled through the city. For the first time since landing in Peru I felt genuinely chilly, even slightly homesick. I felt strange and kind of sad and couldn't see anything.
chocolate con churro institution on Avenida Jose Larco. Seated at an outdoor table on the busy street we asked the waiter, in embarrassingly broken Spanish, for the house special, para dos.
Minutes later the snack arrived - five crispy churros each, the size of fat pencils dusted with grainy sugar, meant for dipping into the accompanying cups of thick, glossy chocolate.
"There is no way I can eat all five of these." I said, eying the plate incredulously. Minutes later my fingers were greasy and my mouth coated in sugar. "I am eating all five of these."
I had been expecting Mexican style-hot chocolate and big cinnamon-y donut sticks but this was something different. The chocolate was more like a sauce, unsweetend but extremely rich and fruity. The churros were similarly not too sweet, perfectly oily and crispy on their ridged edges and a little bit doughy in their centres.
It was comfort food, Lima style. The kind of food you eat when you want to be reminded of your childhood and surrounded by warm, cozy gustatory memory. No one grows out of this desire - Manolo's was packed with men in business suits, tattooed teenagers, beautiful people on their way to nightclubs and backpackers from every corner of the earth.
Food unites everyone in Lima - the strangest, saddest city with the biggest, emptiest plates of churros con chocolate on earth.