For the first two weeks of October, my husband and I had a blast visiting Andes and remains of the ancient Inca civilization in and around Cusco, Peru: Stunning landscapes, magical lush valleys and foggy mountains, mind blowing stone work and engineering, delicious fresh food, colourful handicrafts, soothing music and of course a lot of history! A history almost too painful to hear of Spanish colonization demolishing the Inca Empire, looting their treasures, enslaving them and brutally suppressing resistance movements up to the 18th century!
Cusco, once Incas’ capital, has half a million population today and according to one of our tour guides 80% of the city’s economy depends on tourism. This includes not only food, lodging, entertainment, heritage businesses small and large, but also native women who make a living by knitting sweaters and hats out of Alpaca wool, and by dressing up in colorful clothes along with their Alpacas and baby goats to take pictures with tourists. Apart from a small section of Cusco called “historic center” which is packed with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, live music in addition to “historic sites” and of course tourists, the rest of living spaces in Cusco is quite unornamented – bare buildings, houses made of mud and chopped straw, hungry but free dogs living in harmony with simple friendly people all over the city.
We were in Cusco just before the beginning of the wet season which starts early November and goes on till the end of March. For the whole 15 days of our stay, we were blessed with the most gorgeous blue skies and pleasant weather, ranging from 2 or 3 C at night and early morning to 23 around noon. So, best of both worlds as long as you dress in layers. Cusco is about 3,400 meters elevated from the sea level, which means fatigue and shortness of breath for the travellers, if not altitude sickness in the first few days. Nothing one could not handle though; just take the locals’ advice and drink lots of coca leave tea and you should be fine!!
In the two video clips bellow (5 minutes each), I have compiled a small portion of this amazing trip to share with you. As you might guess from the videos, we stayed in Cusco but took one or two-day tours to visit various sites, some of which are: Salt Mines of Maras, the Inca circular terraces of Moray, Pikillaqta, Pisac, Tipon, Ollantayambo fortresses and village, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu (which was absolutely the highlight of our rip) several museums (which I have captioned in the video) and a wildlife sanctuary. Hope you enjoy watching my videos and decide to visit if you have not already.
Love to Peru, to JJ, Karina, and all the good people we met over there.
For most Iranians, smoked white fish resonates with the Persian new year, Norooz, especially when it is prepared long with mixed herb rice. And of course, as an Iranian food blogger I have already posted the full recipe for this delicious Norooz related meal right here.
However, first off, in the mentioned blog entry I did not devote enough attention to preparing smoked fish component of the meal. Secondly, I absolutely feel the need to share with you my new discovery: Smoked fish can be found in most supermarkets in my city (and am pretty sure in many others) ALL YEAR Long!! So, why wait till the New Year? Why have it only once a year? In fact, the type of smoked fish I find here is quite moderate in terms of taste intensity (not too salty, not too smoky) and can be served on its own along with either plain white or herb mixed rice. Read the rest of this entry »
As promised last week and without further ado, here is my recipe for zucchini fritters when you have too many homegrown zucchinis on your hand and no one in particular to offer it to them! You could make this with yellow or green zucchinis as a side, snack or light meal.
Ingredients: Read the rest of this entry »
It is said that two zucchini plants produce enough zucchinis for a family of four to eat as much as they can for the entire summer. This year I grew three zucchini plants for the two of us, which meant way too much of it if we were to stick only to our traditional Persian style zucchini stew.
Almost every single morning I checked on my vegetable garden I found a new baby zucchini turned into a huge heavy one almost before my eyes. So, even with all I gave away to family and friends I still had to come up with new creative ways to consume this delicious vegetable. Read the rest of this entry »
I found the recipe for this delicious and easy dip in PRAVA organic site and modified it slightly to my taste. You could do the same I am sure as long as you keep the main ingredients in: It is a vegetarian recipe and completely gluten and dairy free.
Ingredients Read the rest of this entry »
Traditional Persian jams are made with whole or cut fruits rather than crushed fruits; they usually have no additive to make them jelly like and as a result any kind of fruit jam preserves that fruit’s look to a large extent. It is hard to find this type of fruit jam in the market in Montreal, giving me one more incentive to make them at home from scratch.
For this particular jam, I used the four berries currently in season in Montreal: Strawberries, black berries, blue berries and raspberries. You could certainly go with your own choices. Also for this particular jam, I have deviated from traditional Persian jams by making it less sugary/sweet. I have used brown sugar instead of white sugar and only to a much less degree, and used maple syrup to get to the desirable thickness and sweetness. I am pretty happy with the result: Not as thick as a traditional Persian jam but much tastier! Give it a try to see for yourself! Read the rest of this entry »