Glutton in Peru: I ate at San Camilo market and didn’t get food poisoning

san camilo market

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today’s meal is at San Camilo market in Arequipa, Peru.

After arriving in Arequipa, I started searching online for good cheap food. From GQ Trippin, I found out about San Camilo market. It seemed like the most amazing place for affordable and yummy food.

I expressed my interest in the market to my Spanish teacher to ask his opinion as a local. He discouraged me from going because I might get food poisoning.

Next, I told fellow student/ posh Russian-American Tasha (not her real name) about the market and she turned her nose at it, adding that the “food there is rough” (aka not refined enough for her palate).

What is a poor glutton to do? Visit the market on my own of course.

I was slightly worried about food poisoning but I was very sure that my stomach of steel would mean no problem. Plus, I was armed with knowledge from the famous Jodi. Quoting from the post: Eating Cheap Good Food Abroad

Everyone tells you to eat at the stalls with the longest line of locals, but an important addition to that is to opt for the stalls with women and children in line, too. More variety in the customer base usually means the stall has been vetted enough that it’s safe for everyone. Yes, it’s still better to choose a long lineup of men over crickets and an empty stall, but given the choice, women and children in line is where you want to go.

The market was easy to find after I had the directions from my teacher. The cobbled streets of Arequipa were not kind to my shoes since I kept slipping on it.

In the market, I walked past several ceviche stalls several times because I was too shy to sit down at any of them. Finally, I saw the stall that looked like where GQ Trippin ate and luckily a family just left their side of the table. I sat down and smiled at the ladies working at the stall.

Using my still-limited Spanish, I asked for ceviche and something I had no idea what it was. Now, I think it might have been fish soup because it’s a soup and it has fish inside.

Chupe de pescado at San Camilo market

Fish in my fish soup

Next was the ceviche. Ever since eating ceviche in Buenos Aires, I had been dreaming of this raw fish dish. But since Arequipa wasn’t even near the sea, I hesitate eating it. Still, my gluttony overcame my good sense.

Ceviche from San Camilo market

They definitely used a different fish at the market compared to my delicious meal in Buenos Aires.

Close up of ceviche

I wasn’t satisfied with the tiny bits of fish which were dwarfed by the large sweet potato. Of course I should have known that carbs are more important than decadent protein.

After the stomach-bursting meal of soup and sweet potato, I still walked around the market. I stopped by one of the drinks stall and ordered a “surtido con leche” (which is a mix of unknown fruits).

The vendor poured one large glass for me. When I finished my glass, she poured another glass from the same batch. Turns out there are two servings with that price.

My very large glass of juice

By the time I sucked the last bit of juice, my stomach was stretched to its limit. I waddled back to the hostel, planning my next meal at the market. (Unfortunately, I never did get to go back and eat, although I had another juice.)

I did not get food poisoning like my teacher thought I would. If the locals are eating it, it’s probably safe enough to eat it too.

Related posts:

Glutton in Peru: Alpaca meat

alpaca crepe

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re feasting on fluffy alpacas. I promise they look less cute in meat form.

Have you seen alpacas? You’ve probably seen their photos since I featured many of them on my Facebook Page.  They are so cute and fuzzy wuzzy but kind of stinky. [While you’re there, please “Like” my Page. Mucho gracias.]

While in Peru, I had the chance to eat some alpacas.

Hey, I don’t see you complaining when you eat mutton so don’t complain about me eating something this adorable:

"I'm so cute. How could you eat me?!"
“I’m so cute. How could you eat me?!”

Continue reading “Glutton in Peru: Alpaca meat”

Down side of travelling: Top 5 worst things about my RTW

top 5 worst things about my rtw

Now that I’m back in Singapore, I can finally take a break from travelling and take a good look at my 4.5-month round-the-world trip.

My friend M asked me to summarize my trip in a list of Top 5 best and worst things about my RTW. Since it’s an interesting way to summarize the trip, I will share with you my two Top 5 list today and next week.

Since I’m a “bad news first” kind of person, we’ll be looking at the worst things things that happened during the trip. In one of the next posts, I’ll share the other side of the trip: the Top 5 worst things that happened.
Check out the rest of the post…!

#FoodFriday Peruvian seafood soup


Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re slurping some soups made of fruits of the sea in Peru.

Some time ago, I talked about Latin America’s ceviche, a dish with raw fish cooked in lime or lemon juice. Today, we’re still eating food from under the sea but it’s cooked using fire.

I love soups and this extends to noodle dishes in soup. There is something very comforting about a food that doesn’t require you to chew too much.

I also like my soups tongue-burningly hot because that’s when I know that I am alive. I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to soup.

Seafood soups in Peru

Seafood soups in Peru were unlike the Chinese soups that I’m used to. Instead of clear soup, we have a stock that is bright orange. The ingredients always seem to threaten to escape from the bowls which are huge.

Seafood soup of the house in Lima

Chupe de pescado--Fish soup!

Read more:

#FoodFriday I love ceviche!

Where to find cheap food in Aguas Calientes [#FoodFriday]

#FoodFriday Lactose-less milk in Peru

#FoodFriday I love ceviche!

foodfriday ceviche

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to going to South and Central America for some raw fish yummies.

It was my mom who introduced me to the wonders of sashimi. A long long time ago, I didn’t realize just how tasty raw fish with a hint of spicy wasabi is. One day, she encouraged me to try out “just one slice” of tuna sashimi. I was hooked!

Since then, I always welcome dishes with raw seafood (even if they taste like rubber) so imagine my joy when I learned about Latin America’s ceviche.

The dish, also spelled as “cebiche”, is raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice. The juice “cooks” the fish using some scientific magic. Or can explain better:

In the culinary arts, ceviche is a Latin American recipe for raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lime and lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice coagulates the proteins in the fish, effectively cooking it.

Ceviche is served in the morning and until noon in Peru because it’s not good to keep the half-cooked fish until dinner time. However, for tourists, restaurants do serve ceviche for dinner.

Ceviche at Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

My first ceviche experience was in a Peruvian restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Chan Chan was near my hostel and was said to serve cheap food. I ordered the ceviche, despite not knowing what to expect. I imagined a large plate of sashimi slices but it looked like this:

Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires
Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

There was a bush of onion on my fish and a piece of tapioca and a small corn. I thought it was going to be all meat. :(

Still, I fell in love with the tangy dish despite my ulcers which were stabbed by the lime juice with each bite.

From then on, I was open to tasting as many ceviches as I could. However, until now, the dish from Chan Chan remained the best tasting and the most filling ceviche that I’ve had.

Ceviche at San Camilo Market, Arequipa, Peru

I’m hesitant about eating ceviche in most places because the combination of raw fish and unsanitary conditions equals disaster.

So I was glad to learn that the couple from GQtrippin did not have problems with the ceviche at San Camilo Market in Arequipa. I made it a point to visit the market and taste the local ceviche.

Ceviche from San Camilo market
Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

The sauce for my ceviche was dyed a slight orange color from what I hope was the tapioca. The dish was nice but it couldn’t compete with my memory of my dish in Buenos Aires.

This other ceviche place in Arequipa


I adore ceviches but I find it frustrating that they never serve a big enough serving to strerch my stomach. Ceviches are served in petite portions with more garnish than the actual fish.

Sometimes the dish is served in fancy wine glasses like this one from a ceviche recommended by one of the teachers in Arequipa.

Four-taste ceviche from Mares, Arequipa

Cebiche from Mares
Cebiche from Mares

As a budget traveller, I do not frequent fancy restaurants much. But when I was studying in Arequipa, Peru, my retired schoolmate Tasha* (not her real name) always had plans to visit nice restaurants. I could have said no but I always went along.

At Mares in Arequipa, they have a dish with four different sauces for ceviche. I quite like the one that tasted of fruit but I do not remember the proper name.

El Salvadorian ceviche

El Salvadorian ceviche
El Salvadorian ceviche

I tried ceviche at a seafood restaurant in San Salvador. There was quite a lot of fish and even a fried banana biscuit to garnish.

I was surprised by the crackers they gave me. The waiter told me that I should eat the fish with the cracker.

The fish was quite OK and I liked the salty taste of the cracker combined with the lime juice. Yum yum.

When I head back to Southeast Asia, I’ll miss ceviche the most. Even if restaurants sell ceviche, I seriously think that the price will be over the roof so I’ll just eat all my share of ceviche here before I head home.

Have you eaten ceviche? Do you like it?

Adios Arequipa /On a posh Peru night bus [YQrtw Day 104 Jul 22]

Oltursa bus ticket

Location: Arequipa, Peru

I have been in Arequipa for two weeks. It’s kind of funny how I ended up staying in a place I’ve not heard about before my trip and which I only learned about at Iguazu Falls.

Not sure if I’ve told you the story about the Peruvian girl who told me that the weather in Arequipa is always warm and it is known as the City of Eternal Spring. I jot down the name in my iPhone notebook and forgot about it until I needed to plan my Peru trip in Santiago.

I’m glad I went to Arequipa. The language school I went to was great, stuffing my brain with different past tenses and some future tenses.

The city was beautiful with buildings built with limestones. Food in Arequipa was good too but I suppose this is true for Peru.

I didn’t do much on my last day in Arequipa. I finished packing and checked out of my room. Then I went to a cafe where Tripadvisor reviews promised good coffee.

I managed to find “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The book cost only 4 soles (S$2) and is surprisingly thin. But from the first chapter that I’ve glimpsed through, everything you need is still there.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Spanish
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Spanish

Tasha (not her real name and previously known as N in my entries) still had her room with the hostel so she let me take a nap in the spare bed. How nice it is to be able to lie in a bed!

Finally, it was time for me to head to the bus station. I was really stressed out because the smallest note I had was a 50 soles note and about 4 soles in change.

The hostel didn’t have any change for 50 soles neither. I always find it funny when businesses do not have enough change lying around.

In the end, I had to tell my taxi driver that I only had a large note and that I was willing to be charged an extra 2 soles to get change back. He didn’t quite get it until the end but all was well.

On the taxi, the driver asked me if I am married/ do I like Arequipa/ when will I come back etc. I answered all of that in Spanish. (Not very good Spanish but still…)

10-hour Oltursa bus to Cusco

At the bus station, I found the Oltursa counter and started my check in process. At the counter, the guy weighed my suitcase, stapled a label with CUSCO on it and a serial number.

Oltursa bus tickets
Oltursa bus tickets
Oltursa check in counter
Oltursa check in counter

Then I paid the 2 soles “exit tax”. I find it funny that we need to pay bus terminal taxes like airport taxes.

There was also a carry on luggage check. The man felt my bags (all 4 of them) for what I think is alcohol because the video on the bus said no alcohol is allowed.

Then everyone hung out at the lounge. The lounge had comfortable sofas but not enough for every passenger. Thankfully I found a 1-seater sofa and hogged it with my stuff.

Oltursa lounge in Arequipa
Oltursa lounge in Arequipa

Among all the passengers, I spotted 4 British girls while the rest seemed to be from Latin America. From what I’ve heard, Cruz de Sol has loads of foreigners. I’m kind of glad we didn’t have that many chatty foreigners on this bus.

Soon it was time to board the bus. My seat was the very last on the lower floor. The facilities on the bus astounded me. This is definitely the best bus I’ve ever taken.

Oltursa cama seat
Oltursa cama seat

The seat is big with comfy cushions. There was a small pillow and a blanket waiting for me on my seat. On the right of my seat were two electric outlets. I immediately made use of it by charging my phone.

The seats are able to recline quite far but not enough to be called an actual bed although the type of seat is called “cama” (bed).

The bus left at 8:35pm, just 5 minutes after the scheduled timing. I guess that is considered really punctual in South America. (Not that Malaysian buses are any better.)

Once the bus started moving, we were served dinner. The main dish was rice and fish with a side of tequenos while the dessert was a rice and quinoa mix.

Main dish on Oltursa bus
Main dish on Oltursa bus

There was either coffee or tea to go with the meal. The bus only had the teas preferred here: spiced tea with flavors such as anis, cinnamon and others. I still have a supply of ceylon tea from Sri Lanka so I chose to have that instead, along with a tea spoon of sugar.

There wasn’t any movie playing on board although there was a video of safety in Oltursa buses and some travel program about one of the destinations covered by the company.

I got ready for bed soon because there was nothing to do on board. My phone could not connect to the internet and I do not want to use my laptop because I have motion sickness when trying to read on a moving vehicle (trains and planes are alright though).

I sent mom a text message telling her how good the bus was. Her reply was that she could not read my message. I totally forgot that my Claro SIM card could not send out messages in Chinese. How is that even technologically possible?

Anyway, I went to bed in my seat with my eye mask and ear plugs. When I woke up for the toilet, I realized how cold it was outside as the little cubicle was freezing. As the bus swerved violently, I laughed out loud and my breath caught in my chest. Was this the work of altitude sickness, I dared not investigate and instead went back to my seat to sleep.

Arequipa, the town of endless parades? [YQrtw Day 103 Jul 21]

Arequipa parade

Location: Arequipa, Peru

I spent the morning walking in the “rich” part of Arequipa with schoolmates N and S. When we got out of the hostel, I was surprised to find that the road was blocked.

It turns out that there was a parade. Last week, there was one and today another. Does Arequipa have a parade every Sunday?

The walk in Selva was alright. There were modern houses and about 2 very large parks. One of the parks had a few alpacas but they kept away from the gates.

We also stopped by Mundo Alpaca (again!) at my request. This time, I saw the little machinery museum underneath the show area. On display, there were a lot of machines used in turning alpaca wool into stuff you can knit things with.

Machinery museum at Mundo Alpaca
Machinery museum at Mundo Alpaca

We walked across the bridge to Yanahuara area. Lunch was ceviche, probably my favorite dish in Peru. It reminds me a lot of Japanese sashimi.

Ceviche in Arequipa
Ceviche in Arequipa
Arequipa's Rio Chili
Arequipa’s Rio Chili

We walked back to the hostel for a siesta. I didn’t really nap but spent my time doing more planning for the rest of my trip in Peru as well as watch TV.

Before 5pm, N came over to bring me to the Tango place. Some day ago, there was a lady passing out fliers for dance classes during the weekend. N who did tango in Argentina insisted that I go with her.

Unfortunately, the dance teacher was not there. Another local girl was waiting at the lobby as well. She called the dance teacher and told us that there was no class today.

We headed to Valenzuela for coffee. The drink wasn’t that fantastic but I got to cross off the place from my To Visit list.

We walked around before heading back to the hostel.

For dinner, I ate two pepino melon and made a submarino. Unlike the submarino in Buenos Aires, the one I made didn’t cause any stomach problems. I suspect it’s because I used my 0% lactose evaporated milk.

Despite the things I ate, my stomach craved something salty with animal protein. I still have to pack my bags for tomorrow’s check out at 11pm.

I’ll be taking a 10-hour bus from Arequipa to Cusco tomorrow evening. From there, I will head to Ollantaytambo before my train to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu train tix booked/ More baby alpacas! [YQrtw Day 102 Jul 20]

Mundo Alpaca

Location: Arequipa, Peru

This morning at about 6am, my neighbors were getting out of bed and the floorboards squeaked like crazy. I fell back to sleep much later and woke up for breakfast after 9am.

I tested out the 0% lactose evaporated milk I bought from the supermarket. I made lactose-less kopi C and it tasted well. I’ll write a full report for next Friday. Stay tuned!

After breakfast, I decided that I need to start planning my trip to Machu Picchu. I only have 2 weeks left in Peru and I don’t want to screw up my main reason here in South America.

I talked to the little travel table at the hostel. The guy quoted a US$270 package from Cusco to MP and back. He also said it’s quite easy to book the tickets myself.

So I started checking out the sites for trains to Machu Picchu’s nearby town–Aguas Calientes–and the tickets for the site.

I was a tiny bit disappointed to find out that the combination of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu were all sold out until September. (Don’t worry, there are still tickets to MP.)

Booking train tickets were a bit tough too. The original date that I plan to go did not have cheap return train tickets so I pushed everything to one day later.

For now, I have my return train tickets from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes but not the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu because I needed to pay the entrance fee at a bank. I plan to buy the entrance tickets when I get to Aguas Calientes.

Baby Alpacas again!

After the tiring ticket buying, I set off to take the bus to the supermarket near where I used to stay with my homestay family. I walked all the way down Santa Catalina and realized that I was only 500 meters away from the cute baby alpacas.

My feet decided to carry me to Mundo Alpaca.

I was not sure how Milk (the white baby alpaca) escaped from the pen but it was calmly grazing and eating the tips of the flowers when I spotted it. I never got to pet it because it kept running away.

White baby alpaca at Mundo Alpaca
White baby alpaca at Mundo Alpaca

I saw baby Coffee (the brown baby alpaca) resting its neck on a bigger alpaca which I hope is its mom. They were so cute.

The baby alpaca snuggled against its mother and it was so adorable~~

Brown baby alpaca with mom
Brown baby alpaca with mom

At Mundo Alpaca, there’s also loads of sheared alpaca wool. I snuck away one pinch of it. Shhh!

Bales of alpaca wool
Bales of alpaca wool

After Mundo Alpaca, I walked back to the main street for the bus. Luckily, I found one which had an empty front seat.

The traffic on the main avenue was quite bad and the bus crawled until I reached my stop.

View of Arequipa from the inside of a combi.
View of Arequipa from the inside of a combi.

After having a ceviche at a restaurant recommended b one of the teachers, I headed to the supermarket where I couldn’t find cheap cotton pads. Can you imagine, one cotton pad here costs S$0.35. That’s quite expensive!

I was hungry for something else so I stopped by the supermarket cooked food area. I was horrified to find out that the lady reheated my chicken drumstick in the microwave on a Styrofoam plate.

After the meal, it was time to head back to the city center. It took a long time before I found a relatively empty bus (meaning it’s not crammed from the front to the back with human bodies) and I got on.

A quick summary of the rest of the day: quick walk to the market; watch Batman Return in Spanish; have dinner; head back and blog.

See you tomorrow!

More days in Arequipa/ Dolls in Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa [YQrtw Day 101 Jul 19]

dolls in the church

Location: Arequipa, Peru

I’ve decided to extend my stay in Arequipa to Monday. One of the main reason is that I really really dislike the act of travelling (getting from Point A to Point B) so I want to delay my 10-hour bus ride from Arequipa to Cusco.

Today was the last day of Spanish class. Both my teachers gave me farewell gifts–a book of coupons and a box of chocolates. That was really sweet of them.

In the evening, I visited the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa which only opens at 7am and 5pm. The church has a wooden “devil” crushed under something heavy.

The devil in the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
The devil in the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

The basilica also has a few dolls dressed up in lavish dresses and some with beads of tears on their face.

Dolls in the church
Dolls in the church

Other interesting photos for the day were:

Two-storeyed cactus
Two-storeyed cactus
Slightly creepy manequins for wedding dresses
Slightly creepy manequins for wedding dresses
Wedding dresses in Arequipa
Wedding dresses in Arequipa

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the sights in Arequipa from earlier in the afternoon.

Beautiful door at Interbank in Arequipa
Beautiful door at Interbank in Arequipa
Arequipa's municipal theater
Arequipa’s municipal theater
Courts of Arequipa (?)
Courts of Arequipa (?)

Fountain in Arequipa

A church in Arequipa
A church in Arequipa

A piece of Spain in Santa Catalina Monastery [YQrtw Day 100 Jul 18]

Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Orange tree in Santa Catalina Monastery
Orange tree in Santa Catalina Monastery

Santa Catalina Monastery is one of the most important sights in Arequipa. The monastery is known as a city-in-a-city because the nuns were quite self sufficient.

The entrance fee is 35 soles (S$17.50) which is quite expensive for Peruvian price. One of the tour guides in the monastery approached me and said the usual rate for a 1-hour guided tour is 20 soles (S$10).

With a guide, you will know more about the history of the monastery and hear interesting stories.

Fountain in Santa Catalina
Fountain in Santa Catalina

Back when the monastery started, it was a period when the people in Arequipa followed Spanish customs and sent their second child into the church. “To pray for the whole family,” said my guide.

It was an honor to go into church and become a nun. The girls who entered the church were from upper class family. The families were able to afford building houses for their daughters which is why there are separated houses–complete with a bedroom, a kitchen and a servant’s room for the smallest houses.

The custom of having servants for the nuns stopped when one of the Pope Pius required the nuns to live together and share a same kitchen so they can understand how the poor live.

Now, there are still nuns staying in the monastery but they live in a separate section, called “New Monastery”. They make cookies, soap and perfumed rosaries which are sold in a small shop in the old monastery.

View from Santa Catalina's top
View from Santa Catalina’s top

At the end of the tour, we reach the paintings hall where religious painting by the Cusco School are displayed.

Santa Catalina arches
Santa Catalina arches
Hall in Santa Catalina where nuns ate
Hall in Santa Catalina where nuns ate