The Pacific Ocean borders the country of Peru on the west, and the Andes Mountains border it on the east. From the sea, the country has given the culinary world cebiche, tasty bite-size pieces of marinated fish. From the highlands, home to the Incas and historic Machu Picchu, the country has blessed the rest of us with Pachamanca.
Pachamanca can be prepared with many different types of meat or poultry. Traditionally, it was also made with guienea pig, but modern diners tend to shy away from eating pets. To prepare the dish, lamb, pork or chicken is seasoned with spices rich in Peruvian flavors and marinated.
Once the meat is ready for cooking, the process begins to take on the look of a New England clambake or a Hawaiian luau. The marinated meat is placed on heated stones and covered with dirt. After cooking for about two hours, the meat is unburied and served for guests to enjoy the earthy Peruvian flavors of the meat. Traditional sides include potatoes, Lima beans, called habas, or Peruvian sweet potatoes, camote. Dessert was baked in the earthen oven right along with the meat and vegetables. This took the form of humitas, fresh corn cooked with lard, salt and cheese or with sugar, fat, cinnamon and raisins for an even sweeter dish.
To enjoy a selection of Peruvian food, visit La Costanera Restaurant, which is located on Montara Beach just a short drive south of San Francisco. The Peruvian chef is experienced in traditional Peruvian cooking methods, and the menu is extensive with appetizers, entrées, desserts and beverages. At the Peruvian restaurant, La Costanera, try the adobo, a pork shoulder entrée flavored and cooked in old world style using the secrets of the Incas.