Each week's edition of Show & Tell gets more adventurous. It's organ time! Usually ceviche is the first dish that comes to mind when thinking of Peruvian food, at least for nonnatives. That's what some Short Order writers thought even before the white Styrofoam box was opened; they were in for a surprise.
Smaller dishes were sampled before our main entrée. First, canchas were passed around. These large kernels of toasted corn are tossed in salt as finger food and are usually served as a snack before appetizers. Our group of seven agreed the canchas were yummy, while two said they were too dry. One taster scarfed a handful and said they reminded him of a larger version of unpopped kernel corn that he loves to fish for at the bottom of popcorn bags.
To conquer the dryness, more corn was served, this time in liquid form. Chicha morada, a sweetened purple corn drink, was passed around. Each response to this sugary-cinnamon beverage varied: "Wheaty aftertaste," "Tastes like grape meets oatmeal," and one writer commented about the strong similarities to German glühwein, saying that the mulled nutmeg and clove-scented similarities were astonishingly similar -- "It could even be served hot, like glühwein" she added. This was her first time trying it, and at first she thought it was beet
juice because of its intense deep-purple color. She passed it on to
someone else because it was too sweet for her startled tastebuds.
Starchy root yuca (cassava) is served next with a side of huancaína
sauce. "A little dry" was the majority consensus of this fried dish.
The bright yellow, slightly spicy huancaína reminded one taster of Velveeta sauce. Strong currents of red pepper were was detected by a few. One disgruntled sampler commented how Pollo Tropical "makes their yuca just as good." He also added it tastes like a French fry but rootier.
Now on to the main dish. Let me just add that coming into this Short Order Show & Tell with my Peruvian dishes from Limon y Sabor
that I had the foolish idea that veteran food writers would be more
daring about ethnic foods. After all, Miami's
culinary status feeds upon ethnicity.
But noses were immediately turned up
and squeamish childish facial expressions were in full effect upon just
glancing at the anticucho, or cow heart. Before the first bite, their minds were made up. Two of the writers with tons of
food writeups under their belts
were so grossed out by the "spongy texture" that one turned green and
the other offered her mints. You would have thought that the
light-brown, lean piece of meat was still pulsating. A plea of "You gotta warn somebody if it's really fucking
weird" summed up one writer's traumatized state of mind. The other couldn't
stop talking about how gross it was.
Needless to say, the dish received low ratings. (Though Sabor a Peru, located a few blocks south from Limon y Sabor, makes a tastier anticucho because their earthy, slightly spicier sauce reigns, this dish was not as "gross" as made out to be.)
wanderer of the halls was invited in to sample the heart, and he scarfed
it down, dunking it in the creamy huancaína sauce for added flavor. On a
scale of 1 to 10, he gave it an 8.
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Limon y Sabor is located at 3045 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Click here for website.
Short Order Ratings (Scale of 1 to 10):
Cancha: 5; chicha morada: 7, yuca: 6; anticucho: 4.75
Price including tip: $30
Watching food writers squirm: priceless.