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Ok, maybe a bit of a stretch, but I did bump into it, and then focused all of my will to not puke in the middle of the sidewalk. Because yes, it was hanging out of a meat shop – over the sidewalk.

Peruvian cuisine is highly focused on meat, and its quality. Yesterday, in the cab on the way home, the taxi man began the conversation (as all tasistas do) in asking me what my favorite Peruvian food is. Each time I respond with Ceviche, claro! But I may give up this response because it evokes a “Que? Y no te gusta la gallina?!”. They then immediately switch the focus of the conversation to a tutorial in Peruvian cuisine. Peruvians love *all things Chicken* and they hope you will die for it just as they do. The taxi man then asked whether I prefered la gallina or pollo.

The caveat of his inquiry: Gallina and Pollo both translate as chicken.

However not in Peru. The people here are incredibly skilled in distinguishing between an array of grub. From ‘juice pinapples’ to ‘pineapples to eat’ or limes for a salad vs a delicious ‘sweet lime’ that you eat like a mandarine or the five different types of bananas you will find at any side street fruit stand, they’ve got it all covered. In so much as they have a completely different crest for a meal prepared with pollo vs la reina gallina.

‘In Peru,’ the taxi man described, ‘..there is a big difference between Pollo and la Gallina. Have you tried Carne del Res Beef, y Cerdo pork? Well the difference between the two is just like the difference between Pollo and Gallina’.

Right, because a chicken and a chicken are just as different as a pig and a cow.

But something clicked. At the market, each chicken that hangs upside down with its ovaries popping out is displayed in that way to show off their seniority to the younger pollo at the next counter over. Te explico..

The stages of a chicken begin with the young, white meat of ‘el pollo’ as the chicken grows and begins to produce eggs, its meat matures until it reaches the stage of ‘la gallina’. The Pollón is the largest most mature and tasty type of chicken you can buy.

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In fact checking with the woman beside me at the coffee shop, she added the Pollón as seen on the far right is in the middle of producing an egg which is currently in route out the ‘shell gland’. The soft eggs found inside La Gallina will be used in soup.

Call it just another cultural difference that can be observed as just that, or take deeper look. Peruvians love family, and lunchtime is the best way to sit and spend time with them over a home cooked meal. They take pride in their food, and lets all face it, Grocery store brand chicken is not half as flavorful as the chicken from your local Saturday farmers market. Moral of the story: Watch your step in walking down the sidewalk, you may get hit by a pig.

2 thoughts on “I just got Smacked by a Leg of Ham

  1. Anna, I am enjoying your posts. At first I thought you were just on a trip to Peru, but now it sounds like you are staying for a while. What are you doing there? And how long will you be there? Bruce and I plan to go to the Galapagos next year. And then we want to visit Peru while down there. I will have to pick your brain!

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    1. Aunt Ellen! I am glad you´re enjoying it. I am teaching in Trujillo, Peru the third largest city in Peru. It is about 9 hours north of Lima by bus. I am happy to let you pick my brain. I will keep you all in mind as I write. I can start a page for general travel information for you guys 🙂

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