In an effort to make a Washington D.C. mandated charla about dental hygiene and nutrition fun, our wonderful Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) hosted a Peru 23 Master Chef competition!
We were divided into four teams and each team received 10 soles (~$3.50) to make a nutritious plate using local ingredients. The judges took into account presentation, nutritional value, and use of local ingredients.
The winner… “Yana-con-o’s” from the residents of Yanacoto:
Real talk… I had no idea any of these snacks were possible to make in Peru! One of the challenges we face as we’re adapting to the Peruvian culture is the drastic change in our diet. A normal breakfast is bread and butter with café or milk. Then lunch and dinner usually consists of a huge helping of potatoes, an even bigger portion of white rice, and then a little chicken or lentils.
Sometimes we have a “salad” of onions and one or two slices of tomato. We also recently found out that the majority of Peruvians cook with MSG otherwise known as “aji no moto”. Luckily my host mom stopped using it after seeing a program on the discovery channel about the negative effects of MSG.
In training we’ve learned subtle ways to alter the family’s, and in turn our diets to include more fruits and vegetables. Some tips include making a really big deal about how delicious a mandarin, or salad with lettuce is to show you’re family how much you like it. Sharing meals is a big deal in Peru and our moms really do want us to be happy so in many cases they make changes based on our reaction to food.
It was great to find out that for one day’s allowance of 10 soles we could buy enough fruits and vegetables at the market to make something like a fruit cone or green smoothie! I will definitely be making and sharing some of these things with my host family. Comment below if you have any other nutritious recipes that would be easy to whip up! I would love more ideas.