Let me just start by saying that I had no idea what Peruvian food was before I got to Lima, and quite frankly, I thought it would be similar to Mexican food. Oh how I was wrong.
During our pre-departure meeting with the President of EdOdyssey (program that Holy Cross does study abroad through in Peru), I shouldn’t have brushed off the president’s comment about how we will probably gain weight. At the time, I had just ended my 12 year competitive ice skating career and was still in great shape.
At Holy Cross and at home, I had never struggled with finding and choosing healthy food options. My favorite foods were, and still are, fruits and vegetables in addition to a daily dose of ice cream. In Kimball dining hall at Holy Cross, I would indulge in a blueberry muffin on Mondays and Wednesdays for breakfast, but I would always accompany it with a big bowl of fruit. My go-to lunch and dinner was a bowl of brown rice with grilled chicken and a bunch of lettuce and salad fix-ins, topped off by some balsamic vinaigrette. When garlic knots were served, I gladly indulged. When I was craving a bagel, I also indulged.
Yet as I previously stated, my entire time at Holy Cross was characterized by a busy combo of studying and ice skating. Each week I practiced up to 6 days and about 18 hours. I could easily afford to eat bowl of ice cream or a garlic knot here and there. But at the same time, I was astutely aware of the importance of eating well, getting my daily greens, protein and sources of nutrients.
So here I am in Peru… and Bread is my weakness.
I think of students studying in Italy and I’m like, “yeah, I could see how they’d gain weight from eating lots of yummy pasta.” But in reality, I think the carb intake of a Peruvian diet tops a daily dose of pasta.
For breakfast, we get two rolls of bread (pancitos) and an egg, as well as a fruit smoothie.
For lunch, we are on our own. I would go as far as say that about 95% of food options, at restaurants, at bodegas, and at the university, are carb based. Most peruvian dishes include a combo of potatoes and rice. If you’re lucky, you’ll get multiple types of potatoes in your meal! Additionally, among quick snack or lunch options there are empanadas, croissant sandwiches, and triple sandwiches which have about 4 or more pieces of bread in them.
For dinner, our host mom serves us Peruvian food. More bread, potatoes, and white rice.
Each week I tell myself I am going to cut down on how much bread and bread-related foods I eat. But bread is my weakness. What’s a post-dinner tea without a piece of bread with jam?
As I continue to fill my body with carbohydrates and attempt to save my body at the gym each day, all I want is a salad. I miss Kimball. I miss the Pub and being able to design my own salad. I miss the accessibility of healthy options. I miss the days when I didn’t have to tell myself to not eat bread.
Don’t get me wrong, Peru’s food is great! Matter of fact, apparently Peru is the “Best Culinary destination in the World” for the 7th consecutive year (World Travel Awards).
So I guess the point of this blog is to share with you that when someone tells you that you will gain weight in Peru, they are probably right. And if you have even the slightest affinity for bread in the U.S., bread will probably become your weakness too if you come to Peru.
Here’s to another month of bread intake and looking forward to numerous salads and platefuls of vegetables when I get back to the states for Christmas!