Sunday, August 17, 2008

Destination Peru #6: Wet Your Whistle

I wanted to write an entry addressing the beverages in Peru. I mentioned the chicha morada, purple corn drink before, but there are many more worth mentioning. Also, the famous Pisco was also addressed previously.

The two drinks you'll find everywhere

The above picture shows the two most common drinks you'll find in Peru, much more popular than water. Actually Coke is also on that list, but we have Coke here don't we? Actually, more on that further down. Cusquena is by far the most popular beer in Peru by its sheer ubiquity. They seem to sponsor so much down there, including this remote wedding on a floating island in the middle of Lake Titicaca.

See the Cusquena gazebo?

For the non-drinkers, which seem to be very few, there's always the non-Coke standby Inca Kola. I've heard about Inca Kola during my research back in LA, but I was quite shocked to discover its florescent yellow coloration. My mom explained that it was likely due to the association of Incas with gold. I definitely racked up quite a few bottles of this during my trip. It tastes similar to bubblegum or cream soda. Apparently, it's also caffeinated. Pity I've never seen it before here, but I'll be sure to ask for it at my next Peruvian restaurant. In Peru, Inca Kola is closely associated with Chinese food. I'll explain more on that in the future.

Melon juice

Mixed fruit juice

Commonly, you'll see places serving jugos or juices from various regional fruit. I frequently saw banana, strawberry, papaya, pineapple, apple, orange, passionfruit and peach. The above melon juice is fresh squeezed from Astrid y Gaston. As with all the juices, it was sweet and refreshing. Also, they're all rather puply, usually not strained. While I usually like mine pulp free, it makes the drink healthier. I'm sure there's fiber or something in it. The mixed fruit juice is from a little restaurant in Agua Calientes that I will soon review. I tasted predominantely banana, pineapple and orange. Again, it's nothing unique besides the quality of the ingredients.

This was a Guarana soda my brother bought at the supermarket. I told him to try it because I'm in love with the Guarana Antarctica from Brazil. Sadly, the Peruvian counterpart seemed too artificial for my tastes. Asked to describe it, I would say that the soda tastes something like cream soda with a slice of apple. Please try it at your next churraschuria. Apparently, the guarana berry has two to three times the caffine of a coffee bean. Something to keep in mind next time I'm pounding these sodas at Fogo de Chao.

Something I notice when drinking Coke and Sprite in Peru. The sweetness is different. I have a feeling that the sweetener is more likely cane sugar than high fructose corn syrup. I've had sodas I've known to be cane sugar before, and the flavor is definitely superior. But I've heard conflicting information about HF corn syrup. On one hand, the body is supposed to find it indistinguishable from regular sucrose, common table sugar. But I've also heard people decrying HF corn syrup for being worse than transfats, cholesterol, salt or whatever our society is waging war on these days. Can anyone confirm or deny that for me?


Anonymous said...

I think the sodas in Peru and Brasil were sweeter than in the US. Coke was the same, but fruit-flavored sodas, especially orange, either had more sugar, or the sugar they're made with tastes sweeter.

Aaron said...

Is that why Fanta is so much more delicious overseas?

Anonymous said...

You asked why some people think High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse than trans fat and Saccarin. Well, besides obesity and diabetic implications, now you have to deal with mercury in HFCS. It's bad enough that I have to be careful when ordering tuna from sushi bars, but now I worry every time I drink sodas and eat ketchup.

I LOVE Jones Soda now that they're making it with sucrose instead of HFCS. Except they're still using Sodium Benzoate as preservatives. That's just as bad as HFCS, if not worse. But that's another rant for another day.

Here are some links:

How Much HFCS Is In Ketchup?

"I was looking again at the quote from Con-Agra in regards to trace amounts of mercury found in HFCS-laced foods like ketchup, and the thing is, people don't just eat ketchup. HFCS is everywhere."

Aaron said...

Thanks for the research Pablo. It's very comprehensive

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