Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sex and Food Peruvian Style

My friend Mily and her two children, Sylvia and Jorge.

Sometimes I think about the number of phrases that will make my blog pop up on a google search. It scares me.

So in continuing with speaking about culture, I thought I should fill everyone in on the meal situation. Most mornings I wake up to eat soup. Caldo verde is really common. Caldo means broth and verde means that the soup has a bunch of cilantro blended up in the broth with potatoes and sometimes macaronis. They might put parsley and basil in, but I don’t think so. I think it’s mostly just cilantro. Maximo, my host father, once told me that caldo verde is good for diabetes. I don’t really know, but it sounds right. Sometimes for breakfast we just have bread (pan). We don’t have a panaderia in Catilluc so usually the bread is brought in from Tongod (about 45 minutes away) and stored for a week until the next market day (Wednesdays). Sometimes my family or I buy paltas (the Peruvian name for avacados) and we’ll put that on our bread, and sometimes we’ll buy jelly (marmelada) or butter (mantequilla) but those are both treats. Sometimes we have cafĂ© for breakfast with the rest. Sometimes we don’t. Oh, and if we have caldo in some form or another, we usually have hard boiled eggs and as hard as it is sometimes, I try to eat two because I’m pretty sure I’m lacking protein here and that’s a pretty good source.

Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day. The food always varies. But there is usually a heaping mound of rice and potatoes. Sometimes we have lentils or beans (my favorite lunches) or a small piece of chicken or meat, and even more rarely we have trout. There is a nearby stream that apparently provides Catilluc with fresh trout. About once every two weeks my mom splurges and we go eat at the local restaurant run by a really nice family who are good friend with my family. Tuesday is pollo alabraso and papas fritas (rotisserie chicken and French fries). It’s pretty tasty. When my mom isn’t here or just when they invite me, I’ll eat at my neighbor’s house. We’ve had ceviche with trout (a typical Peruvian dish), papa de la huancayina (boiled potatoes with a slightly spicy cheese sauce), and cuy (guinea pig – you’ve seen the pictures). Today, I ate at a friend’s house and we had tallerines (noodles) with aceite and atun (oil and tuna). It was pretty tasty, of course even my noodles were served with a huge side of rice.

Dinner is usually a little smaller. Mostly it’s coffee (for me tea because I try to avoid caffeine after 4pm – I am such an old fart) and pan. I feel I need to mention at this point that because I live in a small town, that we only have one kind of bread. It’s white bread rolls. They’re hard to explain because they’re not like what we eat in the States. But to locate pan integral (wheat bread) or pan de trigo (also wheat, but tastes different), one needs to buy it in the larger cities. Sometimes I buy some in Cajamarca when I go, and I try to share it with my family. It’s pretty expensive by their standards. There are times when we have a bigger meal at dinner. I can’t really tell why this is except when we have parties and then you eat way too much rice and potatoes just before bedtime. I love it when we have fried eggs that we can put in our bread.

Beverages, on the other hand, are a whole other matter. I can’t believe how little the people drink here. I am going through serious latte withdrawals (yep, snobby and preppy thing to say, don’t care). I miss my Bear’s Brew, Loosecaboose, and The Break (to name just three of the coffee houses I frequented in Missoula). Like I said, for most of the time we have tea or coffee with most of our meals. At lunch you might see a juice of some kind. I’m really starting to love banana juice. Also at lunch a person can have maracuya or some other drink the name I can’t remember. Sometimes I drink a juice (sometimes hot, sometimes cold) where they put gelatin in water.

And now on to sex. The reason I wanted to talk about this a little is because last week a young girl surprised everyone when she popped out a little baby boy. No one knew she was pregnant and her sister delivered the baby in their room, at home, in the campo. Then because she had so much shame, the mother then went into postpartum depression. So to make a long story short, teenage pregnancy is looked down upon here, but it is a major concern. Also, a lot of young girls’ first sexual encounters come from a rape. The girl sometimes gets pregnant and then has to marry the man who raped her in the first place. Sexual education classes are taught boys with girls. I think that this is a mistake because I feel like women can be taught how to say “no” if there isn’t the peer pressure and goofing around that comes with a topic like that. And our obstetriz (think nurse practitioner) told me that women marry young here (this presents power dynamic problems when the husband is ten years or older) and will not know sexual pleasure in their entire lives. Interesting, no? I do know that birth control is bringing down the number of births in the district of Catilluc. We have more evangelicals than Catholics here, but even the head of our Catholic church here believes in birth control. So it is used. It’s often just those that don’t visit the health center or young girls that get pregnant.

I’m doing well. It’s been raining a lot here, and apparently it will get worse until May and then it will get cold. I’m fighting off a minor cold with herbal remedies from the states. And I’m dealing with some body image problems because I think I’ve gained too much weight. If the scales are to be believed, at 5’1” I weight 149 pounds. I don’t believe the scales, but regardless dragged myself out of bed to go running for the first time. It practically killed me, but it felt so good. So this has been a long post. Enjoy a couple of photos. I’ll write when I can.


Leah said...

Ari, we love you! I love reading about details-love knowing what you and the culture that you are immersed in eats and the social issues that you and that society are facing. I need to catch up on your blog...The pictures you have posted are beautiful! I wish I had the courage to travel and serve the way you are!! One day, when I finish my nursing degree, maybe I will deliver a baby on the mission field, maybe I will be their obstetriz (haha)...anyway, we are all well, Brynna is in kindergarten now and has; lost two teeth (and man is her tooth fairy nice), learned to write her name and tie her shoes...I will have to find the spot to write more to you than just below your entry...God Bless you Ari and your work with the people of Peru ;)...

nancy Seldin said...

Hey Ari,
Glad to finally get into you blog. I'm so far behind techologically...tend to rely on regular e-mail, but now that I know this is here, I'll check and also pass it on to this year's cohort IV group. I'm sure they'll be interested!
Love you dear, and thank you for writing!

Tiffany in Peru! said...

Ari, you are beautiful and look fabulous.. so don't worry! Rice and potatoes are muy alimento, didn't you know? :)

Amy said...

Wau! vas a Cajamarca para pan? Pero, Cajamarca es muy lejos no?

I have a request. I need information on bread in Peru, I'm writing a thirty page paper on Peruvian food, and I need all the help I can get. Bread and just regular food would be great, (and really interesting). I spent 4 months in Peru (starting in August) but I lived in Lima. I spent my time in Huaraz being kinda sick, so I don't remember much of it. I would love to hear from you.


lutkemi said...

hey, I am writing a paper on sexuality in Peru and was wondering if I could interview. Please e-mail me; mlutke_10@hotmail.com

Thanks :)

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