Like most people interested in reading this right now, I love food. Not only do I love food, but in particular, I love meat. How could one be a foodie without eating one of the most extensive and foundational food groups? No tengo ni idea…
Despite my already fragile and upset stomach after a car ride up 2,000 meters from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, when given the opportunity to try alpaca for the first time, could I say anything other than yes? Of course not, I’m a meat-lover! I’d be wanting to try the Peruvian delicacy since a friend of mine here raved about eating it at a restaurant in Arequipa. I call alpaca a delicacy because the animal is a huge source of revenue in terms of both garments and meat. The alpaca and it’s closest relatives are a staple of the peruvian economy. It’s undomesticated ancestor, the vicuña, is even displayed on the Peruvian coat of arms!
As I took my copious helpings from an inside buffet at a small hotel outside of Colca, I couldn’t help but hear the loud and steamy sound of marinated meat being slabbed on to a grill. I followed the sizzling noise and pungent smell to an outdoor grill, filled from top to bottom with alpaca. To make the scene, a live alpaca was running around in the yard next to the grill, just inches away from his relatives that I was about to feast upon. Pobrecito alpaca.
And oh, did I feast. The alpaca was a sizable portion of lean cut meat, doused in a light red sauce with a tiny kick of ají to it. The meat was cooked extremely well, both tender and moist. While easy to cut, my portion contained a lot of bone. Although most may not appreciate picking through bones, I am first and foremost a buffalo wing eater and there’s nothing more I’d like to do than sift through a bone’s crevices for every last piece of meat. After working through as much as I could with a knife and fork, it was time to get the hands dirty and finish the alpaca off. All that was left on my plate after I’d finished was a clean alpaca bone, completely ridden of all meat: a job well done.
Unfortunately, despite my love for the alpaca meat, I was only able to eat it for one meal. When a stomach is already delicate, try sticking with bread and soup and save the alpaca for later. But since I only tried it just this once, I think this calls for a round two back here in Arequipa!