Today, after I met with the mayor of my town and did a walkthrough of my community as part of my community diagnostic, I went to a local high school along with my site mate and her host mother. We were Jurados de un Concurso Interno de Platos Tipicos (Judges in a Traditional Peruvian Food Competition). Finally, all those countless, seemingly wasted hours watching the Food Network paid off. We, the judges, tasted 14 dishes typical to various areas of Peru, the coast, the sierra and the selva. The plates were prepared by the students who gave us an explanation of how the food was cooked and what region it was from. The plates included Aji de Gallina (a spicy chicken dish), cabrito (goat), a couple of types of cuy (guinea pig), chuletas de cerdo (pork chops) and Jalea de Mariscos (seafood medley).
The plates were judged on five criteria: utilization of local foods, creativity, nutritional value, hygiene, and presentation. All of the plates were delicious and many of the students worked hard on plating and presentation which would have made Emeril proud. Some of the plates were served with wine and Pisco, a local liquor made out of grapes. I thought is was a bit odd being served a hard liquor by a 15 year old high school student at twelve in the afternoon but I’m just a dopey, culturally unaware American so what do I know. The winner…. Jalea de Mariscos (seafood featuring the locally renowned crawfish), some kind of chicken dish placed, and Cuy en Salsa de Mani showed.
Afterwards, I was walking down the street looking for a place to get a key made and a group of school girls from the losing classes passed by and started wearing me out about the judges’ selections. Seems they didn’t feel that the mariscos plate was a typical or traditional Peruvian dish. I had to remind them that in our district, camarones are king. One of the girls who was in the winning class agreed whole-heartedly and taunted her friends with what I took to be the Peruvian equivalent of “You got served bitch!” The others stood their ground and kept arguing but I was done and told them to take it up with the gringa that lives down the street.
Passing the buck…Works here too.