Thursday, June 07, 2007

Peru Pride

The Boston Globe’s Liza Weisstuch asks whether pisco, a which resembles vodka but is made from grapes, will be this summer’s “it” drink. OK by me. I think pisco sours are delicious, and I don’t mind that they’re made with egg whites. But I didn’t know until today that pisco is a bone of contention between Peru and Chile:
For years, Chile claimed the spirit as its own, but in 2005 the World Trade Organization recognized pisco as a beverage of Peruvian origin. Some are as fiercely protective of pisco as the French are about Champagne. "For me it's an insult to see Chilean 'pisco,' " said Christian Lizarbe, a native Peruvian who was having a pisco sour on a recent Friday at Machu Picchu in Somerville.
I already knew – thanks to Calvin Trillin and his book Feeding a Yen – that Peru is also involved in an international squabble over its national dish. Ceviche is raw fish that has been marinated in citrus juice long enough to taste “cooked” (still cold, but nothing like sushi). It’s usually served in chunks, accompanied by potatoes and by with roasted corn kernels, each one the size of a nail on your big toe. However, in Ecuador, it’s more of a stew, with tomatoes mixed in with smaller pieces of fish. As Trillin says, “I would imagine that Peruvians consider their version of ceviche stately and Ecuadorians consider it dull.” I’ve never gone Ecuadorian, but I recommend the “stately” version at Machu Picchu, in Somerville's Union Square. Just double up on the pisco sours so you’ll get enough liquids.

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