Monthly Archives: October 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Day 026 – August 17, 2011

Foreign” is the theme this week from WordPress and their Weekly Photo Challenge.

Living as we do in Peru, this is a slam-dunk of a no-brainer of a dope-slap of a challenge. From Machu Picchu to Cusco to Iquitos to Laguna Huacachina to Lima, my digital shoebox is full of photos from this foreign (okay, foreign to me) country.

So it was only natural with all the foreign-ness around me, that my answer to this challenge would be about cooking.

For reasons not important to this particular tale, I was charged with creating the night’s dinner.

My selection for the evening repast would be beef chili. As you can surmise, one of the main ingredients for this meal is ground beef. I made the quick walk over to our local grocery store to pick up the meaty party of the dinner in addition to all of the vegetables.

At the butcher section of the store, I did not see the trays of ground beef laid out in patties or rectangles that I was accustomed to seeing when shopping in the States.

No, this is what I was given when I asked for half a kilogram of ground beef.

Meat in pan

It’s a sea anemone of ground beef

My apologies if this configuration of meat is familiar to those of you in my reading audience, but I have never seen ground beef in this shape before so it is most definitely foreign to me.

To finish off this story, the family was less than enamored with my chili-ish creation. I may have overcooked the carrots and undercooked the onions, but I gave it the old college try.

At least I have lunch for tomorrow.

A Post for the Senses

Day 459 – October 23, 2012

Quick bites for today…

On one of my favorite radio stations in Peru, I heard the Blues Brothers rendition of “Rubber Biscuit”.

I had never heard this funny little ditty over the airwaves.

Chalk up another first for me here in Peru.

In my local grocery store, the Christmas trees, ornaments,  and other decorations are already up.

I don’t know when the holiday greenery is showing up in the States circa 2012, but two months before December 25 is far too soon.

Our house awash in the smell of cooking garlic courtesy of the fabulous cooking skills of our empleada.

I actually enjoy this odor so I can’t wait to taste what we’re having for dinner tonight.

Before my Spanish class, I took a moment to enjoy one of my favorite snacks. It’s not cuttlefish, but in my opinion it’s even better.

They’re chocolate-flavored saltine crackers.

Don’t knock ’em until you’ve tried ’em (and my inaugural taste of those mini-delights was another first for me).

Sitting on my left wrist, touching my skin with its constant pressure, is a wristwatch. My timepiece is a combination of analog and digital. For a shade over a year, the hands of my watch have been stuck at 11:06.27 AM.

Here’s why.

Last September, my watch needed a new battery. I went to our local grocery store where there is a small kiosk selling watch batteries and offering repair services. The gentleman who swapped out the old power source for a new one did something to the internal mechanism stopping its movement. Despite my pleas for the repairman to fix his mistake, he (as best I can guess with my poor Spanish skills) assured me that the hands were broken when I came to his kiosk. I have gone back to that mini-shop (when the first guy wasn’t there) and other places to have the watch repaired, but to no avail. I can still tell time because the digital portion still functions.

At least, the analog portion is right twice a day.

The Update Post

Day 443 – October 7, 2012

Last month, I took pictures of a McDonald’s restaurant that was in the middle of being built. I did this in response to a quote making the rounds on the Internet from actor David Tennant where he said he never saw a McDonald’s or Burger King being constructed.

When I took that picture in September, I had been told that the fast-food establishment would be ready for business in two months.

Well, it actually took less than a month. Here’s your updated photo.

New McDonald's in La Molina, Peru

As a comparison, a Bembos hamburger joint just down the road was gutted three months ago, but it still looks like this.

Bembos under construction in La Molina, Peru

Day 456 – October 20, 2012

Last month, I wrote about a small incident that showed the influence of the Japanese culture here in Peru.

Here is another sample.

While cruising through the snack aisle of our local grocery store, I came across this item and had to buy it to experience the taste.

Package of cuttlefish snacks

Note: Picture not taken in snack aisle

Yes, who hasn’t had a hankering for some cuttlefish?

Now while the package does say these snacks are cuttlefish-flavored, the seafood purist should take heart because one of the ingredient is indeed from the Order Sepiida.

Ingredients of cuttlefish snack

After tasting them, I can tell you these salty tidbits are Cephalopodelicious.

Day 451 – October 15, 2012

Last month, I wrote about the dollar falling in relation to the Peruvian currency, the nuevo sole (S/.) .

In that post, I wrote about how I was receiving a financial education about supply, demand, and currency exchange rates.

My education has now spilled over to my children.

A month after my original comments on the greenback’s plummet, the fall of the dollar continues as its exchange rate is now S/. 2.551 to the dollar.

This week, our grade-school daughter opened her mouth to show us the beginning of a wiggly loose tooth. When we told her that she should expect the same arrangement from the Tooth Fairy that her brother did when he lost a tooth (a dollar’s worth of the Peruvian currency), she countered with an alternative deal.

She said she would like one dollar (American) because she had heard me and my lovely wife talking about the falling exchange rate. She realized she would only see S/. 2.5 under her pillow instead of the S/. 2.7 her brother received.

It was a valiant try, but she still awoke to find S/. 2.5. Sorry, but The Tooth Fairy, Inc. is not a non-profit outfit.

Travel Theme: Couples

Day 429 – September 23, 2012

The suggested theme from the folks (or is it simply the singular form, “folk”?) over at Where’s My Backpack? is couples.

My offering takes you once again to this Sunday and to Perufloral 2012.

This couple caught by my camera was only an item for a short while. The partner with the brown shoes left soon after I snapped this picture only to be replaced by another…and another…and another.

Shoe shiner at Perufloral 2012 in Lima, Peru

The dance card of the man in blue was always busy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Silhouette is the theme this week from WordPress and their Weekly Photo Challenge.

As this theme word contains three syllables, I offer three photos:

Day 193 – January 31, 2012

Surfers at Mahaka Beach in Lima enjoying the final waves of the day as the sun begins its decline.

Mahaka Beach, Lima, Peru

Day 248 – March 26, 2012

Evening: Hummingbird perched on electric wires.

Hummingbird on wires

Day 250 – March 28, 2012

The trellis that acts as a roof over a walkway in a local neighborhood park where I like to go, write, and watch people.

Roof trellis

And It Was Good

Day 453 – October 17, 2012

Dinner tonight was made by our fabulous empleada, J.

Her culinary creations are fantastic and we rarely have the same dish within two weeks. She is a wizard in the kitchen and her encyclopedic knowledge of spices and flavoring is a wonder to behold and a delight for the taste buds. Since cooking is akin to magic to me as I have never truly mastered the skills needed to be of any merit around a stove, oven, or sandwich maker, I can only bow my head in awe at J’s sorcery.

Given all the above praise, tonight’s offering gave me pause, but I should have had more faith.

She made pasta (not handmade, but I wouldn’t put it past her to know how to do this and make it taste fabulous) and she made meatballs (yes, these were handmade).

She also made a sauce – from scratch – as she mashed and strained the tomatoes and added all sorts of various spices with names I can’t recall. (Are “mashed” and “strained” even real cooking terms? See what I mean about my cooking skills.)

Then, she added…

…and I hesitate even now to record this item for posterity, so I will only append an image to show you J’s secret ingredient…


In Spanish, it is called “pina”.

J chopped up this fruit that is neither pine nor apple and placed those chunks into her sauce.

As much as our kids made faces and rolled their eyes, we have a rule in our house that every new food has to be tried before judgement can be passed. So we all tried pasta with meatballs in a tomato sauce with hunks of Ananas comosus in it for the first time.

As you may have surmised – as the title of this post foreshadowed – not only was it good, it was muy bueno.

Street Photography: Perufloral 2012

Day 429 – September 23, 2012

My, my, what a busy Sunday.

I am back writing about our family’s adventures on this gray Sunday as I have already mentioned this 23rd day of September in my posts about an update on a local construction project, my photos from the “healthy road“, and a groaner of a joke.

After even all the above activity, the family and I still had more planned. We drove into downtown Lima and made our way to Parque Kennedy to attend a flower fair and exposition entitled Perufloral 2012.

This post could be photo after photo of various types of flowers, but I wanted to try something different for this outing. When I was back in the States in July, I had the opportunity to see an exhibition at the National Gallery Art in Washington, D.C. Entitled I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street, 1938 – 2010, it showcased photographers who would simply walk around and click their cameras without setting up the shot or posing the participants.

With that in mind, I walked amongst the people enjoying the floral offerings, camera at my hip, and opening the shutter at various intervals. Here is what I came up with…

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

…and finally…

Participants at Perufloral 2012 in Lima

Travel Theme: On Display

Day 427 – September 21, 2012

I have mentioned before the trials and tribulations of driving around the asphalt jungle that is Peru (see here and here for some sterling examples).

For this week’s photographic theme from Where’s My Backpack? of “On Display“, I wanted to draw your attention to another familiar sight around the intersections that can draw my attention away from watching the countdown numbers on the stoplights.

Intersections in and around Lima are spaces for public performances. For the sixty to ninety seconds that autos will be stopped at a red light is more than enough time for the show. My offering for this challenge is a juggler that I saw on our local roads.

Street juggler in Lima, Peru

A captive audience

These performers will do their act and then walk up and down the aisle of cars asking for a nuevo sole or two.

In addition to solo jugglers, I have seen pairs of throwers juggle clubs and the occasional sharp instrument. I have also seen a gentleman juggle a soccer ball on his feet, knees, and head while I waited for the green light. I have seen break dancers show their mad skillz (Point of order…as a man born in the 1960s, is it legal for me to write the words “mad skillz”?) on the asphalt. Helmets help these performers execute their head spins on the rough road.

My favorite form of street entertainment are the robots. I’m not sure if it is the same man (I’m guessing it’s a man), but I have seen a person dressed head-to-toe in a hand-made Iron Man costume. I have also seen a custom-made representation of one of the robots from the Terminator series. Then there is the gentleman dressed in a mish-mash of chrome, tin foil, and other metallic elements that gives him the look of a Cylon mixed with The Tin Man merged with Robby the Robot.

(Woo Hoo! One sentence with a troika of cultural references from Battlestar Galactica, The Wizard of Oz, and Forbidden Planet.)

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of these cyborg creations because I need to keep both hands on the wheel while driving around the insane streets of the City of Kings. I’ll put that on the to-do list for this blog.

For more insights about street performers in Lima, I highly recommend the series of postings entitled “Minstrels and Beggars” from the blog called, the burning nail.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

Day 135 – December 4, 2011

The theme this week from WordPress for the weekly photo challenge – as if you couldn’t have surmised by the title of this here post – is “big“.

My offering comes from a Sunday outing the family and I took to a skateboard park in Miraflores. After a half-day of watching our middle child try his luck on the concrete playground, we moved on to take a stroll along the Peruvian boardwalk.

Our walkway – which runs high on a cliff over the Pacific Ocean – took us over a large public space with some pieces of art. Courtesy of the zoom lens on my trusty camera, I can show you one of the big installations that people can enjoy.

Statue in Mirafloes

Seeking shade in summer shadows

My apologies but I do not know the name of this sculpture or the artist.

As for the entire park, here it is…

Park in Miraflores

Sun, waves, and art in Peru

We Apologize For the Noise

Day 432 – September 26, 2012

We have a new member of the family at our house.

No, much to our children’s eternal dismay, it is not a dog, cat, hamster, rabbit, or any of the other dozens of types pet they want to grace our household.

No, the latest addition to our home comes courtesy of our middle child’s sudden (and, truth be told, completely unexpected) interest in band.

Damas y caballeros, I present to you…Rusty!


Now my child can really toot his own horn

Rusty comes courtesy of our School’s band class. Our middle child could have picked the saxophone, clarinet, or cymbals, but he was drawn to this marvel of metallic engineering.

Just note how the light barely and imperceptibly glistens off the oxidizing brass.

Son with trumpet

Now he needs a cool nickname, like “Satchmo”

I can only suppose that this is some form of karmic justice. When I was a lad, at an age even younger than our middle child is now, I too took up the trumpet in my school’s band. As I tortured the ears of my poor parents with my honking and bleating, now I (and our neighbors) must withstand the blares and noise coming from this rusted instrument.

Then again, maybe this is how Herb Alpert started out.