TDS 59 What Comes From Peru, Alexandra Borzo and David Olano

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Until recently, the only thing I knew of Peru was that Paddington the Curious Bear (with tattered hat, old suitcase and all) came from there. The beloved character of children’s books was made famous by British author Michael Bond, describing the bear that lived in “darkest Peru” before becoming a stowaway deposited at a railway station in London.
My knowledge of the South American country all changed a few years ago when my daughter Alexandra moved there after falling in love with Lima, thereafter, making her home in Lima the South American city by the sea. She met a wonderful guy and launched her business there as well. In this episode of #thedeliciousstory, you’ll have a chance to meet Alex and David and learn fascinating details about their cosmopolitan adventures—all while enjoying a virtual sampling of signature dishes of Lima!
THE SILVER LINING OF A PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN
The Peruvian government was an early responder in addressing the spread of COVID-19. Even before the U.S. went into lockdown, the country mandated serious restrictions on their population, including a strict quarantine lasting over 100 days.
It does this mother’s heart good to know that her baby lives somewhere where lives and public safety are so important. I wondered, though, how she, David, and their little Shih Tzu dog named Charlotte managed to remain sane for almost four months of confinement in their fifteenth story apartment!
For months, the three weren’t permitted to go anywhere except to make grocery store runs (and only one person at a time), which became a treat. Restaurants, bars, and everything else was closed.
Alex and David share the experience of their daily life holed up in a city that went nearly silent. They were fortunate in many ways, and provide some interesting insights into how the normally-noisy and crowded city changed after the start of quarantine.
SIGHTSEEING SPOTS OF LIMA
Alex and David describe details of a few more prominent amenities, and you can sense their joy in it, because they love to give friends and family a more intimate understanding of their city. You can glean ideas of the variety of attractions in Lima, a city made up of districts (each with its particular “flavor”).
The parks and green spaces are an oasis for Lima dwellers to connect with nature. For Alex and David, their favorite is the Roosevelt Park (interestingly named after the U.S. President), which is near their apartment and became a mental health lifeline during the pandemic.
Another treasured and particularly beautiful park they discussed is the Bosque del Olivar. The main feature of this large area of land is the forest grove of olive trees established by Spaniard Antonio de Rivera, who brought more than one hundred olive saplings from Spain in the 1500s. It is a wonderful place to walk and think about the history these trees have seen of the city, including when Peru gained their independence in 1821.
A CITY OF EXCEPTIONAL DINING
Although Lima isn’t so much a tourist destination (but, instead, a brief stop to other parts of Peru such as Cusco), it is as stunning as it is a notable dining mecca. Alex and David delve into a few of the signature dishes there, including ceviche, or fish “cooked” in citrus, and anticuchos, which are grilled kebobs of beef heart.
One dish I can report is always worth eating is lomo saltado. Anywhere I’ve ordered this during my visits to Lima I always find it tasty.
Alex provides an overview of the influences of the foods of Lima, too. Think roasted and wok-cooked meats, a variety of seasonings with an emphasis on sauces, and you’ll get some idea. And I bet you’ll be surprised to learn of Peru’s role in the history of spuds, which today are a mainstay all over the world!
Like any city, Lima is a place shaped by hundreds of years of cultural diversity. Per Culture Trip, Peru has the second-highest Japanese population in South America, for instance, which is reflected in the Japanese cuisine fusion restaurants. I recommend a favorite that Alex has taken me to twice, called Kaikan. Lima itself is also the home to the largest Chinese population in the Western hemisphere!
MEMORABLE MEAL STORY
Both Alex and David have enjoyed travel and have taken several trips together since they met. We finish up the interview with a savory story of a vacation journey to Croatia where they visited the cities of Zadar, Dubrovnik and Zagreb.
If you are a seeker of the perfect hamburger—yes, I said hamburger—David can tell about his experience and exactly where you can go to enjoy one. Alex describes another dish she enjoyed at Bar Despacito (which, surprisingly for them both, has a Spanish name) that will surely make your mouth water.
THE PERUVIAN CONNECTION
And about those bears. My research on Paddington did reveal that Peru is home to the Spectacled or Andean Bear found in Northern Peru. This endangered species has the special markings of a light face that gives it the appearance of wearing a mask.
Andean Bears are omnivores and the third largest mammal in South America. Their only predator is humans. Author Michael Bond may have been influenced by this species of bear, especially since he originally wanted Paddington to come from “darkest Africa” until he found out there are no bears there.
Not that I put too much stock in signs from the universe, but it turns out our family has some history with Peru before Alex moved there and planted her flag, too. Our “Uncle Andrew” as we now call him (the brother of Alex’s grandfather’s Aunt Ta) went to Peru 100 years ago with ideas of mining for silver, and was never heard from again by the family. Could he surface if Alex were to look him up in local records? Family stories suggest that he perished, but we’ll never know for sure as his letters simply stopped coming sometime during the 1920s.
But you needn’t worry about getting lost in Lima (unless that is your goal)! Until you visit, you can at least lose yourself in the details and food described by Alex and David in this podcast. Try to imagine a world post-pandemic. I know we all are doing just that these days! That more “normal” future might include the charms of a visit to Lima, who knows!

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