Friday, September 5, 2008

Destination Peru #13: Apu Salkantay Puno

City of Puno

We were in Puno to visit Lake Titicaca. Quick, someone tell me something they know about the lake besides it being the highest lake in the world be elevation...yea that's all I knew about it also. However, my mom had remembered reading about it when she was in grade school so we made sure to check it out on our trip to Peru. We arrived after a long ten-hour bus ride with my brother painfully sick the entire time. Too bad for him, he missed out on all the alpaca along the way. When we finally got to the city, I actually thought the town was kinda dumpy and the lake not that magnificent. It wasn't until we got away from the town and went up into the mountains that we got a better view of the nearby lagoon.


Like the hat?

For dinner, we walked along the main tourist drag without any real direction. I had a few restaurants scribbled in my Moleskine, but nothing particular worth searching for. We ended up at the restaurant with the largest crowd, but there was too long a wait so we went across the street to here instead.

Apu Salkantay
JR Lima, Puno

After some extensive research (the kind that involved my Wikipedia search bar), I found out Apu is an honorific term for mountain spirits in Andean culture. Salkantay is the name of one of the Andean peaks. Fittingly, the menu was Peruvian heavily slanted towards Andean cuisine. My dad and I decided on the trout and pejerrey respectively. These are two of the four types of fish indigenous to the lake. Though the English translation of pejerrey on the menu said "kingfish," Wikipedia tells me that it's actually a neotropical silverside. Well whatever fish it is, it wasn't very delicious. The flesh was rather bland and fell apart too easily. It came with vegetables cooked in black bean sauce, seemingly Asian influenced. After trying the dishes, my parents and I were convinced the chef was Chinese. My dad's combination platter, the Fiambre Salkantay, had the aforementioned trout and also alpaca loin and Andean cheese. The loin was among the better alpaca meat I had in Peru. My mom opted French with a lomo a la pimienta, a pepper steak in a brandy sauce. While the reduction was excellent, it tried to cover up the inferior quality beef. Bad meat, bad dish, no matter what you do to it.

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