I Don’t Know What Kind of Meat it is but I Want to Eat It

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Day 325: Cusco Peru

After a while of working at the hostel bar I got to know my coworkers quite well. Miguel, was from a neighboring town and usually worked the night shift.

We’d often chat when I was getting my first free glass of wine and then the subsequent non-free ones.

Miguel knows I love food and scoffed when he heard where I had been eating, feeling that it was poor representation of what Cusco had to offer.

MAKE IT AT HOME:  Peruvian Chicken Recipe

After a few days of pestering him to write down restaurant recommendations I finally insisted he take me to his favourite restaurant for lunch.

Along with fellow Canadian Catherine we headed to La Chomba, an ajha wasi, which means they brew their own chicha, an alcoholic drink made from corn.

I would have never found it on my own, while there is a sign outside, you need to walk through a compound to get to the restaurant.

two girls drinking chicha

Miguel suggested we first order chicha as deciding what meat to eat could take a while.

Ours were strawberry topped with cinnamon and clove and required two hands to hold but were absolutely delicious and deserved the effort.

In this type of eatery the portions are large, music is loud and people are boisterous.

Often when he gets his hostel pay check Miguel takes his family here to eat which made it all the more special for me.

guinea pig la chomba

First up we had cuy.

Although I’ve had it in Ecuador, here the animal was much smaller, deep fried and a bit saltier.

Although Ecuadorian cuy has a slight edge in preparation, it was delicious as I had remembered.

Catherine who was eating it for the first time also agreed it was pretty tasty.

peruvian chicharron

Next up was chicharron.

I couldn’t come to this picanteria without having pork. It’s been a favourite in almost every country I’ve been in.

Portions were plentiful and I had all the porky perfection I could ask for.

anticuchos beef heart

Finally a giant plate of beef heart.

I had tried anticucho in Trujillo but found it a bit tough.

Here the heart was tender and deep in earthy flavours. I was actually surprised how much I liked it as I generally have no desire to eat animal organs – especially liver.

We came nowhere close to finishing the food and took the rest home.

three people at communal table

All the time I wondered why hadn’t Anthony Bourdain featured this apparently popular restaurant or if no one told him this is where the people really ate.

But my mind was quickly distracted as Miguel told me we were walking on a street famous for chicharron.

Imagine that, a street famous for pig.

But I would have to wait because I was so full and my heart needed a meat break.

La Chomba is located at 339 Tullumayo in the Central Area of town. If you are unsure just ask the cab drivers, they all know it.

Join the Conversation

  1. Samantha Bangayan says:

    Ayngelina, I completely identify with your wandering soul! =) And I mean that in a wholeheartedly good way! I also left a comfortable life in Canada to follow my intuition, which lead me to the Central Andes of Peru, and my life has been all the richer for it.

    If you haven’t tried pachamanca yet, you’ll have to visit Huancayo for some of the best in the country. =) Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I wish I had known earlier! But I am coming back up through Peru so maybe I can go there on my way back.

      1. Samantha Bangayan says:

        Let me know if you do plan on stopping by! =) I’m heading to Chile for a couple weeks, but I’ll be back in late March!

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Where will you be in Chile. I´m heading there next week!

          1. Oh now you’re going to chile, how long you going to be there. : )

          2. Samantha Bangayan says:

            Back to the Andes! =) San Pedro de Atacama, but I’m going for a conference. =P

          3. Ayngelina Author says:

            Okay will let you know when I´m on my way back up!

  2. I was really hoping to slim down a bit while backpacking and now you are giving me no hope! 😀

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You’ll be fine, I couldn’t eat dinner that night because I was still so full!

  3. Katherina says:

    First of all, your friend Miguel looks just like my friend Chucho!
    And, the meat looks amazing… although I’m not sure if I’d give “heart” a try. I guess I would if I had the plate put in front of me 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know the heart kind of tastes like filet mignon, it’s just really tender beef.

  4. Those are killer portions!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Literally, my heart felt so heavy afterwards, walking home in that altitude was a chore.

  5. Trying out new food is one of my favourite things about travelling. Along with many other favourite things! Those meals look good 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So good, so heavy!

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was really delicious but the portions were massive. I’d suggest one plate between 2 people.

  6. South America ME says:

    Our Peruvian friend used to always make Anticuchos (skewers) of heart whenever he had a bbq. I didn’t mind them at all.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If no one told you it was heart you’d never know!

  7. Peter Heck says:

    Hey Angelina, It’s awesome that you indulge in all these types of food. I’m the same way, I’ll try anything! I never tried beef heart, but loved chicharron and cuy was pretty tasty. It’s always the locals who know the best spots for the authentic food, isn’t it? My experience of cuy in Arequipa was a taxi driver who didn’t bring me to a restaurant, but to someone’s house. Cheers!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them as I just landed in Arequipa

  8. None of the meat sounds appealing to me (I have a hard time getting past animal organs and the guinea pig), but I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I’ll try anything at least once though, so if I make it to South America I’m gonna have to check these dishes out! Glad you had a local to show you a good place to eat.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      All of it is surprisingly good, and you can’t go wrong with pork products.

  9. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    Mystery meat! The best kind.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      and heaps of it!

  10. That cuy I was served in Cusco still had the jaws intact and I was unreliably informed it was tradition to use the longer front teeth as toothpicks after the meal.
    I’d always wondered if that was a standard prank as it seemed to amuse the Peruvian diners when I tried…

  11. I’m glad you like pork as much as I do =) Too bad I only heard about La Chomba the last night we were in Cusco and it was Sunday so it was closed. I am living vicariously through your photos and I am pretending to have been part of that feast. Is it true that the chicha drink has a distinctive taste? And speaking of eating cuy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Love good cuy stories Grace, glad you shared them.

      Maybe because Ive been drinking so many corn based drinks I didn´t notice a distinctive taste other than the strawberry deliciousness.

  12. I never thought I’d say this but you made me want to drop everything and get some beef heart – it looks delicious. All of it does!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks, I felt like the photos were a bit of a let down but there was this weird green florescent light so I did the best I could.

  13. Hmm, we’ve gone through a series of hamsters as pets in my home, so not sure I could “swallow” the guinea pig (no pun intended). I do enjoy your gastronomic adventures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So just the beef heart then!

  14. Cornelius Aesop says:

    MmmMmM You are making me miss Peruvian food.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      See there´s a brightside for coming to Peru!

  15. I’ve never heard of chicha, but I like the idea of a fruity drink. And wow, that’s a lot of meat! Not sure how I would feel the next morning!! Looks like lots of fun though.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was a lot of meat, even by my standards. I didn´t eat meat for the next few days.

  16. That sounds amazing! I had heart in Albania and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! It was like a really tough, juicy steak. Yum!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It´s definitely a sign of a good cook, in Trujillo super tough but here so tender.

  17. A question bordering on sacriledge, probably 🙂 – but are there any good veggie restaurants in Cusco?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Not at all sacriledge, in fact I wrote a post for Never Ending Voyage on the best ones in Cuenca. Most of the veg places I saw also served meat. But since there are so many tourists they really understand what it means when you say you´re a veggie. Chuck, of Machu Picchu fame, was a veggie and we ate in the market all the time, they just gave him an egg instead of meat.

  18. Wow, you ate all that? You almost eat more than me 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Believe me it was a tough walk home in that altitude.

  19. Love it – reminded me of the Museo de Jamon in Spain (though when I visited, I was a vegetarian).
    LA

  20. joshywashington says:

    nom nom…incidentally I just posted on meat too! Is it just me or do South American’s gorge on all manner of meaty treats?!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I saw your post, when you find something good pass on the info!

  21. Oh my. And that is all.

    (My husband would be in heaven. Since he’s not an enthusiast about the idea of visiting South America I intend to save this post for later persuasive use.)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Not an enthusiast, oh I need to sit down with him, it´s such an amazing place.

  22. Mmmm, pork! And a whole street dedicated to pork? Sign me up!

  23. Each of those plates look delicious; however, I find myself strangely drawn to the beef heart. Like you, I’m not usually a fan of organs, but there is something appetizing about that plate.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It´s a big hunk of beef, what more could you want?

  24. Ahh…chicharron. You are making me miss Cusco.

    You have to try the Lechon (suckling pig)…simply the best.

    Jason

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Damn missed it, can you get it in Mollendo?

  25. Lorna - the roamantics says:

    you know every time i read your food posts i get stark-raving hungry, but this time i actually got a little squeamish! i’m such an a-hole meat eater- i’m a carnivore by denial. i love it, but sometimes those bones…so the cuy pic…and then just knowing the other dish was a heart. which is weird because i’ve eaten crickets & blood sausage. but then of course i read one of your comments where you say it tastes like filet mignon and i’m all over it like hot cakes. guess this post and my silly squeamish reaction has me thinking about how what constitutes food v. off limits parts is so arbitrary and culture-bound, and when we travel, we have an opportunity to dismantle those notions. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There are very few things that we think are gross that I would not eat again – Balut (egg embryo) is one of them but I really can´t think of any other.

  26. Jen Laceda says:

    I don’t know how you could have swallowed those. I really admire you for being such an adventurous eater!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You could do it, they are just big chunks of meat, if you didn´t see the feet you´d never know what you were eating!

  27. I’m big on offal anyway, but we tried hearts for the first time in Thailand, and they’re astounding.

    Grab some bone marrow, if you can — as a pork fan, you will love it.

    And maybe opt for kidney rather than liver: it’s a little lower on the bitterness and acridity. Or brains, if you can do it: very mildly flavoured. You’d like.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oddly enough I´m a bit queasy about brains, but they don´t seem to serve much of it here. Actually I lie, I saw it in Cusco and kept on walking!

  28. I don’t know what I’m going to do as a vegetarian when I get to South America. Haha. I love trying new things and I really love my food but, boy, this is going to be hard.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I just met a vegetarian who finally gave up and decided to eat meat because he was finding it so difficult but the couple over at Never Ending Voyage has done it for several months now – hope you like pizza!

  29. I don’t think I could eat cuy!!! Does it really taste good? You wouldnt think that there was much meat on it?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s similar to chicken wings, you just pick up a bone and nibble off it.

  30. Bocas Surfer Girl says:

    Can I eat these pictures? Very nice shots, I get hungry every time I visit this blog 🙂

  31. Victoriana says:

    This is making me so hungry, it’s not fair. I’m tempted to visit South America just for the food.

  32. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    Whoa, those are big drinks! I didn’t go to this place when I was in Cusco, but then again, I’m a vegetarian… I doubt they have soy guinea pig 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had no idea you were vegetarian, while they have a lot of veggie options here soy cuy is not one of them!

  33. I don’t know, Ayngelina. That meat looks pretty…intriguing. I’ve never seen anything like it. I love trying different things, but, not being a big meat eater, this stuff I might pass by.

  34. Just catching up with you because I’ve been in hospital for a few days. Honestly, the food doesn’t LOOK very good, but I’m sure it’s very tasty. I’d pass on the heart though.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah it was hard to shoot, brown blobs are tough to make delicious.

  35. You are a freaking brave eater!

    And I had no idea they had chicha in Pero as well. Weird, I thought that one was a Chilean specialty. But I don’t know what it’s made of here and I’m too lazy to google. Only has one flavor here, and that flavor is sweet, like a berry something’ish flavor.

  36. Rahman @ Iran Travel Blog says:

    For a very short time I thought it’ll be so safe to be a vegetarian specially while traveling! I’m one, but in Iran where I travel a lot guiding foreign travelers having lots of problems eating meat-free food!

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think vegetarians have problems in many countries where meat is central to a meal although I think in Latin America they are providing more and more options which is nice.

  37. I know it’s important to be adventurous when travelling, but I’m not sure I could stomach all that meat… especially the one that looks like it still has little legs attached. Bravo to you.

  38. KatieAnna says:

    I read this last week and laugh uncontrollably at sweet Dawn having to shout this.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah instead of Dawn Hare they called her donair!

  39. Pingback: Travel Community Roundup (March 10) | Budget Your Trip
  40. Hi Ayngelina,
    I’ve never been to South America and I’m not so sure I could “stomach” some of the dishes you mention, especially the guinea pig! You’re so much braver than I am! (Maybe if I closed my eyes and someone told me to just taste one bite I could do it—maybe).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You’d be surprised at how most meat really tastes similar.

      The good thing about guinea pig is that they don’t look as they do in North America, they’re actually the size of small dogs not the handful of furriness we’re used to.

  41. Justin Hamlin says:

    After marrying a Colombian, it is amazing how much my tastes have changed. 6-8 years ago I would have looked at that and turned my nose. Now, you have me wanting to hunt down a place like that, just for the food!

    Great pics Ayngelina!

  42. There goes my diet out the window! I’ve only been on it for 4 days but after reading this I could kill for a chunky beef steak and a pint of lager!

    Thanks 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a hard life!

  43. yes, vegeterian dont have much options when they travel, im a tour gudie also in Iran, we have less vegy options for those vegeterian but everyone like persian foods, anyways, i already eat chicharron in Peru and i liked it, it ws yummy

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