Terry and Janet

Terry and Janet

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guest Post: Parker Dean Turk

Those of you who know me well know that if I could have any one job in the world it would be a food critic. I´m the type of guy who if the TV isn´t tuned into Sportscenter or a football game then it´s definitely on the Food Network to catch up on some Iron Chef or Bobby Flay´s Throwdown. That being said, you can imagine how excited I was to come down to Peru and try out all that the Peruvian cuisine had to offer. My wife, however, was slightly more nervous for this same adventure. (Traveling with an 18 month old across the globe is adventurous enough to not want to worry about what crazy food he´ll be eating.)

Let me just say that we have all been pleasantly surprised. The food has been awesome! I know for a fact that we haven’t exactly eaten the same food that the missionaries are eating every meal (2 trips to Papa Johns and one to Pizza Hut), but the traditional Peruvian dishes that I have tried have all been excellent.

(My personal favorite: Lomo Saltado. A stir fry of tender beef served with rice)

As you can see… My experience with La Comida Peruana has been a good one …. EXCEPT:

The Peruvian Death Pepper!

The other day my mom sent me to the little grocery store around the corner to get a few bell peppers for a pasta salad that she was making for all of the guests. I managed to drive around the corner without getting into a wreck (a feat unto itself) and ran into the store to find that all of the produce had been well picked over. I found 5 or 6 red and green peppers that looked just like a bell pepper only much smaller. (The potatoes we had eaten were much smaller than the ones in the States so why should I expect any big bell peppers to be left there on Christmas Eve.) I took them to the check out stand to pay, and the lady went off in super fast Spanish. I feel like I understand Spanish fairly well, and so I definitely understood that she was telling me that these peppers were pretty spicy. I also know that when I was in Brazil they used to think that bell peppers were spicy, so I just shrugged her off and said that these were what I wanted. Bad idea! I got back to the house and started to cut and clean the peppers. I had taken all the seeds out and washed the inside before my eyes started to water. Then I thought, ¨maybe I should try this to see how spicy it really is.¨ I chopped a few pieces and nibbled on one. That´s when it started to set in. My lips started to burn, my mouth started to burn, my eyes were already burning. It wouldn´t stop. Everything that I had touched from the moment I laid a finger on the pepper was burning. My arms were burning and the little cracks in my hands and knuckles were on fire. I started guzzling milk and pouring it on my hands and in my mouth. I went through 2.5 liters of milk before it ever even settled down. My lips swelled up and turned red.

(Molly caught some of my pain on camera.)

Driving in Peru is fun, not scary. Haircuts in Peru are funny, not scary. Peruvian Death Peppers are scary and they hurt!

I have loved my time here in Peru. The mission is full of love and great people. I'm glad my parents could be a small part of something so important!