Herbal Travels: Peru (and Great Salsa!)

http://www.motherearthliving.com/Food-Matters/herbal-travels-peru-and-great-salsa.aspx

N.Heraud

You can check out the Lemon Verbena Lady at http://lemonverbenalady.blogspot.com.

I enjoy my life every day because it is full of herbs and herbal thoughts.  Twenty-two years ago I married my Herbal Husband whose birthplace is Lima, Peru, and in 2006 we traveled there for a visit.

Peru is a magical place, but it struggles to survive on a daily basis.  One bright spot on our last visit was to the Agricultural School where our friends' two sons attended classes. It has a market each week where they sell produce and herbs that are grown by the students. 

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Coming from a nontropical area of the United States, I am always jealous of how enormous some herbs can grow in tropical zones. In Peru, this particular rosemary was as big as a small car!  The students used it for propagation and would make a lot of beautiful rosemaries with it!

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We then went to the foothills of the Andes Mountains and Chaclacayo.  A much smaller city than Lima and there we went to the central market and found the salsa man. 

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He sells his homemade sauces and heads of garlic to the locals.  Yes, there are supermarkets, but the old traditions of the marketplace are still important.  The market is where the action is.  I loved his location because he was bathed in natural light unlike the other stands that had one small lightbulb to light their areas.  He obviously had the spot of honor in the market.  He makes red sauce, green sauce, orange sauce and the famous yellow aji of Peru made into a delicious salsa.  His salsas were in demand as you can see he was doing a brisk business.

Here is a salsa recipe that is typically Peruvian:

Salsa Peruana Aji de Miguel
(Miguel's Peruvian Aji Sauce)

Serves 3/4 cup
Heat scaleHot

• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 4 or more fresh aji chiles, seeds and stems removed, minced, or substitute yellow wax hot chiles or jalapenos
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Heat the oil in a small skillet, and when it's hot, add the chiles and the garlic, lower the heat, and stir constantly to avoid burning the garlic. 

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. 

3. Simmer for ten minutes and then serve over potato or beans.

Recipe courtesy of Dave DeWitt, Mary Jane Wilan, and Melissa T. Stock, Hot & Spicy Latin Dishes: The Best Fiery Food from Las Americas (Prima Lifestyles, 1994).

Hope you enjoy it!  Please let me know if you do!