From Moray -- the group headed towards the famous salt mines of Maras. It is also known as Salinas de Maras. Maras has an elevation of 11,500 feet above sea level. This picturesque town is home to the most important salt mines in the region. The salt mines date back to Inca times and at one point was the largest salt producer in the Sacred Valley.
Our driver stopped at the top so we could get a nice overview of the salt mines. It was amazing! What looked like a patchwork quilt of white and various shades of brown cascading down a hillside were in fact thousands of terraced salt mines that have existed since pre-Inca times yet are still operable till today. Fascinated by its beauty and astonished by the fact salt can actually come from ancient mines and not only from sea water, I was left speechless by the site of salt encrusted ponds before me.
Here was what we had:
We started with QUINOA ( pronounced KEEN-WAH ) soup. Everyone enjoyed the soup. Some of us even had second servings.
Boiled OXALIS TUBER - a variety of potato found in Peru.
ROCOTO RELLENO which are stuffed Rocoto peppers with a kick ( they're a little hot and spicy ). They are usually filled with meat, onions, egg whites, olives and sometimes with nuts. According to Jesus, this dish originally comes from Arequipa.
Then the main dish was finally brought out.... Cuy or the roasted Guinea pig. Each of us were given a small slice on our plate in order to try it out.
Here is a view of my sampler plate of Inca grilled dishes - the one that you see on the right side is a slice of CUY ( the roasted Guinea pig ). The one below is grilled chicken and the one on top is grilled trucha ( trout ).
Being very adventurous I decided to try out this much talked about dish of Peru. As I looked at it -- it reminded me of our roasted pork ( lechon ). I started first with the skin which looked crunchy. To my surprise - the skin was not crunchy at all. It tasted like a day old lechon skin which was ready to be transformed into " paksiw ". Then I took a deep breath for courage then cut and mostly combed at the meat with my fork. I tried the meat. It was pungent and had a gamey taste, perhaps from the herb stuffing. There was a certain slipperiness to it. The meat was stringy and chewy. It tasted like pork with an aftertaste...and with that one bite I thought that was enough cuy for me!
Are you one of those who tries every unusual food as part of your food experience or do you stick to the familiar dishes that you’d eat at home? Would Guinea pig be on your list of things to try?