On Sunday I had a papaya and banana de seda* juice and some quinoa for breakfast, nothing too heavy in preparation for all the food that followed later on that day. We had one of those traditional family lunches in my aunties’ house where we eat heaps of food, chat, laugh and eat more food.
We had chifa for lunch. Chifa is how Chinese restaurants are called in Peru, and by extension, we use the same word for Chinese food. Many years ago a lot of Chinese, mostly from Canton, arrived in Peru as labourers and stayed there, along with their cuisine, which we adapted and adopted. If you walk on the streets of Lima you will find as many chifas as Thai food eateries in Sydney. I’d say that the most popular restaurants in Lima are chifas and pollerías (charcoal chicken restaurants).
My family has always bought food from the same place, Chifa Canadá (it’s on an Avenue called Canada), one of the yummiest in Lima, in my opinion. I had asked my auties to buy arroz chaufa (fried rice), kam lu wantán (pork, chicken, pineapple and vegetables in a sweet red sauce with fried wontons), tallarín saltado (fried noodles) and pollo enrollado con espárragos (chicken stuffed with asparagus). Additionally, the got chi jau kay (chicken morsels battered in potato starch, fried and served with oyster sauce) and pollo trozado de la casa (the restaurant’s signature chicken). They prepared some nabo encurtido (pickled turnip) to compliment the food.
I bought a Californian Zinfandel rosé instead of a Riesling because I thought it would be easier to drink for a family not used to drinking wine. Dessert was the crema volteada I prepared the day before, also to please my sister’s and my niece’s palates. It certainly isn’t one of my favourite desserts, I would never choose it if I had other options.
In this special Sundays we have lonche instead of dinner. The word lonche, as you might have guessed, comes from lunch, but it actually refers to some sort of afternoon tea. I wanted to eat tamales, so I asked my aunties to buy: tamalitos verdes**, tamales criollos***, humitas de pollo** (humitas stuffed with chicken), humitas dulces (sweet humitas, with sugar in the dough and filled with manjarblanco and raisins) and empanadas de carne (beef empanadas, those yummy pastries filled with ground meat, onions, garlic, boiled egg and olives you may already know thanks to globalisation). My aunties, of course, ignored my instructions the buy only two of each and split them to share and got heaps of food. They also bought bread rolls: pan de yema (a sweet roll similar to a burger bun), whole wheat bread and pan francés (French-style bread). I had a small piece of each thing and two bread rolls.
* The explanation about the types of bananas can be found here.
** The explanation about tamalito verde and humita can be found here.
*** The explanation about tamal criollo can be found here.