Fancy Some Meat Done Inca-style?

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during a gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima. PHOTO: Ernesto Benavide

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during a gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima. PHOTO: Ernesto Benavide

What’s the epitome of summer for a lot of Americans? It’s communing around a grill, with friends and family, waiting for a slab of meat to cook to juicy perfection. In Peru, people like to gather around heat and meat, too. Except the heat — and the meat — are buried in the ground. It’s called pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking that dates back to the Inca Empire. The pit cooking technique has evolved over time but remains an important part of the Peruvian cuisine and culture, especially in the central Peruvian Andes all year-round for family get-togethers and celebrations. Imagine a cornucopia of dozens of potatoes and corn ears and giant slabs of well-marinated meat, stacked carefully in layers. Pachamanca is that cornucopia turned upside-down and sealed for hours.

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Part-Time Vegetarianism

Always willing to join a conversation about (or over) food, I’ve been reminded by recent posts by Timothy and Crist of an interesting dietary strategy I discovered while living in Singapore: Meatless Mondays. I watched it as a news story over a year ago, around the same time I watched a TED talk by Graham Hill entitled Why I’m a Weekday Vegetarian. Both of these programs helped me to find a compromise that reconciles the cognitive dissonance I have as a meat-eater aware of the environmental implications of the livestock industry. 

It’s simple: Eat less meat. Continue reading