Derek and I both have this weakness. We have to eat out, or at least order take-out at least once a week. Usually not more than that, but usually not less. I like to have a break from cooking, and he needs a break from dishes.
So on Saturday, when he got back from camping with the Scouts, he told me about this Peruvian restaurant he wanted to try. Two of the guys on the campout were from Peru, so he had asked them what they thought of the Peruvian restaurant that we used to go to sometimes. They both said it was terrible, and that there was a new one that was way better. So he got all excited and asked them what was good there. He doesn’t speak Spanish, so they made him memorize a couple of names of dishes they like.
We are both pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new things, and we’re both food snobs, too. We like everything, as long as it’s authentic. (I cannot stand to go to a place that calls itself Mexican and is really more like Taco-Bell. It makes me feel violent inside.) We like spicy food, so we’re really not afraid of that aspect. We both served missions for our church where we had to eat things that were not your typical American fare. I have had pigs intestines, brains, boiled skin, chicken heads, intestines, feet, fish eyeballs, fertilized duck eggs (with a little baby chick in there) and some sort of burrowing beetle. So I can take surprises, usually. Not that I want to go back to any of that.
Anyway, we were pretty excited to have REAL Peruvian food, something exciting that we’d never tried before. Maybe something that we’d go back for another day, since the selection of good restaurants in our town is kinda small.
Derek called them to make an order, and was heartened to find out that they spoke not a lick of English. He ordered Sachi Papas, and Pollo a la Brasa. The other thing he was supposed to order was some kind of drink, but the person taking the order just couldn’t understand his accent, so he gave up.
He drove to the restaurant to pick up the food, happily noted a Peruvian-looking family leaving the building, and came straight back without even peeking. When he got home, he came right in to Kiki’s room, where I was feeding her. Cue dramatic music, as he slowly opens the first Styrofoam container with the Sachi Papas, and sees… French Fries with sliced Hot Dogs. And three suspicious looking dipping sauces. He burst out laughing, as I sat dumbfounded. Authentic Peruvian French Fries? That had been steaming in the Styrofoam, and were now exceptionally soggy. They weren’t even homemade fries, just the frozen ones that every fast food place has.
On to the Pollo a la Brasa. A full leg of a chicken, complete with drumstick, thigh, backbone, all that congealed brown stuff under the backbone, and even the chicken bum. You know, that thing your Grandma call the “parson’s nose.” The thing you never see in your package of boneless/skinless. The thing that has a tailbone, a bunch of squishy fat, and some skin where you can still find a few tail feathers, if you look hard enough. On top of another pile of soggy, now very greasy Sachi Papas. And a small, soggy, greasy bunch of iceberg lettuce with mayonnaise on top. And a slice of winter tomato. (I’ll save the winter tomato rant for another day.)
I think Pollo a la Brasa is some sort of traditional spit-roasted street-vendor fare. And you guessed it, it tasted like it had been roasted at the side of a very busy, diesel fumey congested street. With a very strong hint of campfire. And some extra grease poured on top. Derek is bone-phobic, so I got to pick all the meat off. Because, yes, we still ate it. And then we were sad.
I told Derek he needed to give those boys a lickin’ at church the next day, but he forgot. He was too busy trying to think of creative ways to teach the dangers of pornography to a bunch of squirming 12 and 13-year-olds. (We made some phony doggy-doo with peanut-butter candy and lots of food coloring, put it in a zip-lock bag, and put that in a gift-wrapped box with a bow on top. The lesson being that it may look nice and inviting at first, but it’s really just a bunch of crap that you don’t want in your house or your mind.)
So I don’t think we’ll ever go to that restaurant again. Nor will we take culinary recommendations from any 12-year-old boys, no matter where they’re from. They may be nice kids, but jeez!