7th January 2012
Fiesta Peruana

Today one of those painfully earnest middle-class middle-aged knightsbridge women on Radio 4's Woman's Hour taught me how to pronounce quinoa - like the cry of a Tourette's baby: 'kin WAH!.
Useful stuff, and just in time for the latest visit from Aline, my cute landlady, and another excuse for a (distinctly wholemeal) knees-up.

Aline loves to spend her time hanging out in Amazonian tree-tops, and since she's been trapped indoors for many months now writing up her foot-thick doctoral thesis, it's definitely time to break out and Party Party Peruvian Styley!

It's turned out to be our biggest gathering yet - partly 'cos almost everyone we invited actually showed up for a change you know who you all are and partly 'cos we also made it a surprise birthday party for Aline's friend Anuschka not that it stopped us forcing her to skivvy for us in the kitchen. So her friends had to come. Hah!

Twenty three people to feed and water - so we went buffet style, mostly cold food which seems to be quite the Peruvian thing, and just a couple of hot stews: One meat and one of those 'kin WAH things - an Inca favourite. Allegedly.

I played only a minor role in the cooking this time - I catered for the non-vegetarians with a pork adobo and a rack of crackling, I under-cooked some peruvian-style rice to go with, and then busied myself with jugs of Cuban Mojitos to get the cocktails rolling.
OK, not exactly authentically Peruvian, and we had planned on more native Pisco sours, but they're kind of fiddly to prepare and we had only limited amounts of Pisco, so we decided to save those for later when things had relaxed a little and we had some time to ge the food processor out.
Pretty hard stuff to get - Pisco. A kind of Peruvian grape poteen, with a fairly distinctive odor of herbal sweat, it's not widely stocked, though you can order it on the internet for around £25 (promptly delivered too I have to say). Or you can buy it from Harvey Nichols for £105 [Tamaya's Gran Pisco is sadly no longer available there :( ].
You do the math.

The sours went down rather smoothly, when they finally put in their appearance, but I guess the party was pretty much drunk out by that point, because we ended up with half a jug that we just couldn't get rid of, not helped by Jenny's mum Liiisa refusing to have anything to do with them!
So I stuck the leftovers in my ice cream machine's ready-frozen sleeve and put it straight back in the freezer. I thought it might freeze smoothly without needing to be stirred being mostly egg white foam. But I was wrong. The result is a crunchy frozen Pisco mousse. Not awful, but no substitute for ice cream I'm afraid.

My Mojitos, meanwhile, met with almost universal female disapproval. Too sour apparently. I reluctantly muddled in more sugar. Still too sour. So I added a bit more sugar. Then still more sugar. Finally the girls were drinking slightly alcoholic sugar syrup and still complaining, and when we collected all the glasses at the end to wash what did we find at the bottom? Yup - a thick sticky layer of undissolved sugar.
Lady wussies. They should stick to their Baileys!

Still it seems there are advantages to having a party for mostly teetotal, non-smoking, vegetarian, mothers. They didn't completely trash the joint and they all went home at a reasonable time. Dammit - I must be getting old!

Speaking of glasses - how is it that despite laying out a whole stock of paper plates and plastic knives, forks, and cups, every single piece of cutlery and crockery that we own ended up dirty?
I guess we failed to padlock them away!

I was going to make some deep-fried fritter-like things for pudding half-way throught the party, but was overcome by an attack of common sense and for once we ended up making absolutely all of the food in advance.

Here are the few simple dishes we made to entertain the masses:
Cold Courses
Mushroom Ceviche
Haddock Ceviche
Julia's contribution - and tons of it too!
Causa Rellana - with tuna fish
Causa Rellana - vegan style
Quinoa Stew
Sweet Potatoes
Boiled sweet corn

Hot Stuff
Adobo de Chancho
Pork Crackling
Peruvian Rice

Mazamorra morada
The pudding which never happened.
Birthday Cake

Pisco Sour

We borrowed a handy bilingual book of Peruvian cuisine from Aline's friend Julia who was also good enough to bring along the haddock ceviche, Which she didn't make following the book. Slightly suspiciously I thought? and Aline did a good job of trawling the web for vegetarian-friendly versions of peruvian classics, making good use of a site called, appropriately enough, Peru Food

And a good time was had by all.
All that's left is for Aline to sober up, bind her massive thesis and get a real job!

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