Ohh, there’s been a lot of food happening since I ate myself stupid in Chiloé. This continent continues to amaze the taste buds (and horrify the waistline).
Today, let’s sing Peru’s praises and offer an uproarious olé to two new delights: Causa and Inca Kola.
This delight was originally created during the war between Chile and Peru in the 19th Century, when the possibility of creating hot meals for soldiers on a large scale was painfully difficult due to scarce resources. Women therefore, collectively pooled the ingredients they could spare from their own home – beans, peas, tomatoes, avocados, fish or chicken and potatoes – and designed an ingenious way to put ’em all together in one scrummy dish. It’s cold (as really, who wants to try actually cooking and heating so much food for so many hungry solidiers) and it was baptised causa as it was a dish lovingly scavenged from local kitchens to support the war cause.
So basically, causa is like a large, cold, salady lasagne…which might sound like hell on a plate, but please, do just come along for the ride and you’ll see how delicious it is.
What makes it delicious and not just a layered cake o’ leftovers is the way the potatoes are prepared: Mashed, with freshly squeezed lime and a hint of creamy ají sauce (chilli). Hell move over, causa really is a summery plate of heaven.
MAKING IT HAPPEN (for four hungry people)
- Six large potatoes
- Eight small limes (very green)
- A creamy ají mix
- A bag of fresh string beans
- Three large ears of corn
- A bag of peas
- Three large tomatoes
- Two Spanish onions
- Two large cans of tuna
- Two large avocados
- Four boiled eggs
It’s like freshness and wonder incarnate just arrived to throw a party on your chopping board.
- Peel, cook and mash potatoes before mixing through the juice of eight small limes and a good dash of ají
- Cut beans and cook along with corn kernels and peas (a good small mixing bowl full will do)
- Finely dice three large tomatoes and two Spanish onions and mix together with two large tins of tuna
- Take two large avocados, ready to eat, and mash ’em up nice
- Take a rectangular oven dish (what you’d use for a lasagne will be tops) and layer the ingredients a little summat like: Mashed potato, beans/corn/peas, mashed potato, tuna/tomato/onion, mashed avocado, mashed potato
- Let it set in the fridge, until you would be able to cut it into chunks and lift them out with a spatula
- Decorate the top with sliced boiled eggs
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I like this stuff, as not only does it provide me with more sugar that I’d need in a month, but is owned outside of Peru by Coke. (Of course, this is actually not that odd, given the way the world is. I would hardly be surprised to learn that Coke owned a small part of myself without my knowledge.)
Inca Kola is a radioactive yellow soft drink made from “lemon verbena” or hierba luisa, an ingredient whose flavour leads many foreigners to think that it tastes like bubblegum. I personally can’t understand this association at all, which either speaks volumes for my superior, more original taste buds…or suggests that they are dying a horrible death and are now no longer able to savour subtleties. I hope it’s the former.
Max and I both claimed that we were the embodiment of health itself and could not be tempted by soft drinks. But, Inca Kola sadly has us both a teensy-weensy bit hooked since we’ve been in Peru.
“What would you like to drink?” at a restaurant is now followed by a sneaky look between us and a loudly-chorused “Dos Inca Kolas, por favorrr.”
Well, I’ll no longer apologise.
The stuff is amazing.