The Attic in Delhi is a lovely space in the Regal Building in CP which plays host to some wonderful talks and demonstrations. I had been following their newsletters while I was in Egypt sorely missing attending their food talks, so this was one of the first places that I checked out when I arrived in Delhi. For the last few months, they had to hold their lectures at the IIC while CP was a mess of construction debris. But this months talks are now back to being held at The Attic.
While some of the talks are held by expert researchers in the field, some are conducted by people who are just passionate about the subject. Zorawar Shukla was recently back from a trekking trip in the Andes and promised to talk about travel, food and adventure on the Andean trail.
He observed a number of festivals while at Cuzco where he started his trip and was told that there was either a protest or a festival being celebrated every day of the year in this city.
While he did speak of the culture of South America, I focussed on the pictures and descriptions of the foods that were mostly new to me.
The food in the Andes region is an amalgamation of local native ingredients (chiefly maize, corn, potatoes and chillies) and ingredients that came in through the Spanish conquistadors, the African settlers and then the Japanese.
Potatoes and chillies were introduced to the rest of the world from South America and the varieties available in the region run in the thousands. Corn is used in everything from drinks to desserts. Quinoa is indigenous to this region.
Coca Leaves are abundantly available around the Andes and while illegal to transport, they are chewed regularly (like tobacco) in the region to supress appetite and increase energy levels. They are also brewed in tea and help in acclimatising to the high altitudes of the Andes.
Street stalls sell delicious treats around each corner. While knowing what the items are, may make them a little difficult to eat, they aren't as shocking as the oferrings at the street stalls in Thailand.
Saltenas are a popular snack that are munched on through the day.
Pisco is a grape liquor from this part of the world and The Pisco Sour is Peru's national coctail. Made with Pisco, lime juice, bitters, ice, sugar and egg white, Zorawar demonstrated and served us all a shot of the cocktail.
He also demonstrated Papa a la Huancaína substituting mozarella for queso freso and green chillies for ají amarillo.An interesting salad.
Peru has its own take on Chinese food, coming up with unique a Peruvian Chinese cusine on the lines of Indian Chinese cuisine.
Bembos is a popular local fast food chain in Peru and it actually has a branch in Bandra in Bombay.
The rest of the food he described and showed pictures of looked and sounded so delicious, that I'm sure that most of the people in the room, wanted to make a trip to Peru ASAP :).
Zorawar described a lot of other dishes, which I do not seem to have got the right transliteration in English.
Some of the terms may have different spellings, the errors are all mine