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Taste & Travel - - Contents - An­d­ina by MARTIN MO­RALES.

FOR ME, THE AN­DES re­gion is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing re­gions in the world. It's a world in its own right,” says Martin Mo­rales, restau­ran­teur, chef and au­thor of An­d­ina: The heart of Peru­vian food: recipes and sto­ries from the An­des.

There are some parts of the world that have a pro­found ef­fect on us, be­cause they are so ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fer­ent from all we have pre­vi­ously known. For me, Peru, and par­tic­u­larly the re­mote, rugged re­gion of the high An­des, was such a place. This spare, lofty land, en­folded by jagged moun­tains at an al­ti­tude that leaves you gasp­ing, seems in­deed like a world apart — a se­cret, soul­ful place on the roof of the world.

Mac­chu Pic­chu is the main rea­son that tourists come to this part of Peru, where un­til the Span­ish came in search of gold, the Inca civ­i­liza­tion flour­ished in spec­tac­u­lar iso­la­tion. Their ru­ined city clings to the slopes of an im­pos­si­bly ver­tig­i­nous peak, as close to the gods as

these an­cient peo­ple could be. Their cul­ture was rich, their agri­cul­tural sci­ence h highly so­phis­ti­cated, and their cui­sine well de­vel­oped.

Fly­ing in to Cusco, de­scend­ing through a nar­row cleft in the An­des into a high moun­tain val­ley, is a spec­tac­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ence. With cob­ble­stone streets and a hand­some Span­ish cathe­dral, Cusco is a pic­turesque colo­nial cap­i­tal. But it is also a mod­ern city with cut­ting-edge restau­rants rid­ing the Nuevo Latino culi­nary wave that started in Lima with chefs like Gastón Acu­rio and has since swept around the world. But travel a few miles into the coun­try­side be­yond Cusco and you will find farmers tend­ing fields of corn and quinoa, their dwellings sim­ple adobe houses with earthen floors, an open hearth for cook­ing and guinea pigs scur­ry­ing un­der foot, wait­ing their turn in the pot. Cui­sine is rus­tic, peas­ant fare, based on indige­nous in­gre­di­ents, many of which are unique to the re­gion, and a nose-to-tail phi­los­o­phy that sees noth­ing go to waste. How, I won­dered, when I picked up Mo­rales' book, can a cui­sine so deeply rooted in place be trans­lated for an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence?

Un­like other re­cent cook­books that cel­e­brate modernist Peru­vian cook­ing, Mo­rales fo­cuses on the tra­di­tional home cook­ing of An­dean women — (the An­d­ina of the ti­tle). And he is quick to point out, there are eleven re­gions in the Peru­vian An­des, each with its own cli­mate, to­pog­ra­phy and gas­tro­nomic iden­tity. Mo­rales doesn't at­tempt a com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of An­dean cui­sine but presents a rep­re­sen­ta­tive se­lec­tion of recipes ei­ther from, or in­spired by, each re­gion.

It's this prag­ma­tism that makes An­d­ina a suc­cess­ful cook­book. With four pop­u­lar Peru­vian restau­rants in Lon­don, Mo­rales has had am­ple op­por­tu­nity to test his recipes, tai­lor them to avail­able in­gre­di­ents and make them palat­able to din­ers in one of the world's most so­phis­ti­cated res­tau­rant cities. And since the recipes are rooted in do­mes­tic cook­ery, they trans­late well for the home cook.

To be hon­est, I won't be roast­ing a guinea pig, sim­mer­ing a lamb's head, or dig­ging a pit to cook Pan­chamanca over hot stones, but if you are in­clined, Mo­rales tells you how to do it. I'm glad these recipes are in­cluded be­cause they pro­vide in­sight into tra­di­tional An­dean cui­sine, at the same time un­der­scor­ing the au­then­tic­ity of Mo­rales' ap­proach.

At the other end of the scale are recipes that may be un­fa­mil­iar but are well suited to weeknight cook­ing. All the recipes I tested, I'll be mak­ing again.

Pesque de Quinua, a savoury quinoa pud­ding laced with cheese, is com­fort food at its best and an in­ter­est­ing way to cook the quin­tes­sen­tial Peru­vian grain (risotto style). Solter­ito, a salad of broad beans, tomato, feta cheese, olives and pur­ple pota­toes is as tasty as it is colour­ful and sub­stan­tial enough to stand on its own for lunch or a light sup­per.

Kapchi de Se­tas, a soup/stew of mush­rooms with a kick of chile, is earthy, com­plex, and de­li­cious. Pi­cante de

Huevos (Fiery Eggs), which Mo­rales says is a favourite brunch dish at his res­tau­rant, is a knock­out.

There are a few key in­gre­di­ents you'll need to seek out in or­der to cap­ture the unique flavours of Peru­vian food. I found panca chile paste and aji amar­illo paste in a Caribbean gro­cery store but if there is none in your neigh­bour­hood, Mo­rales gives in­struc­tions for how to make them from scratch. For harder to ob­tain in­gre­di­ents he sug­gests sub­sti­tu­tions (such as co­rian­der, tar­ragon and mint for the fresh herb hua­catay). The only hic­cup I en­coun­tered was with us­ing feta in place of queso fresco. Feta is quite a bit

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