Easter this year wasn't exactly like I thought it would be...in some ways, that's a relief and in others, it's a bummer. One of the bummer things is that Omar isn't here, so I'm lonely and spending a lot of time on Facebook, bothering my friends and family while I wait for the work week to begin. One of the good things is that I get to do whatever I want. One of the ways that it's a relief is that there's no one else's stuff pushed on me.
Usually, we go to Fanny's house. Fanny is Omar's cousin, who lives in Ica. They have a bed & breakfast inn there and we usually try to throw our holiday business her way when we can. In fact, nearly all the family does. Usually we would arrive first in our car (which was a minivan), oblivious to the fact that the rest of them were following (or maybe it was just ME who was oblivious to that fact.) Then a day later, two carloads of people - aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews - would arrive, all jammed and crammed into one single vehicle. How they managed it year after year without someone dying of asphyxiation or being crushed, I'll never know.
So, anyway, during La Semana Santa (Holy Week), this entire family only eats fish. That's a whole week of fish for breakfast, fish for lunch, and fish for dinner. Fish, fish, fish. There's usually fried fish for breakfast, ceviche or fried fish for lunch, and fried fish for dinner, with the more martyrous older ladies picking at fish heads, tails, and fins and declaring them delicious, while the others consume the choice parts of the fish. It's usually at this time that I choose to go vegetarian. Watching someone picking the eyeballs out of fish heads at breakfast or just before going to bed gives me nightmares.
I'm notoriously a drylander. I won't go to the pool on my own - I have to be forced. I don't enjoy swimming and a trip to the beach only entices me to play in the sand and get my feet wet. I don't particularly enjoy the scent of the sea. It smells like fish to me. I do like sea shells, but only if they don't smell like dead fish. So I guess it all comes down to not really being a fan of fish. So during this Easter week, I explore other food options that aren't in conflict with what most people here consider proper. At Fanny's, I ask for bread and butter or avocado with tea for breakfast. For lunch, I can handle ceviche one or two days, but for the other 2 days, I usually ask for potatoes and salad. Dinner is usually similar to lunch. Eyebrows are usually raised at this. I've noticed that unless one specifically asks for vegetables, they are usually not given a starring role at any meal.
During the time at Fanny's we usually go to the fish market in the evening to help her pick out fish for the next day's meals. This market is right on the pier where the fishing boats come in with their catches, so sometimes you have to look sharp to avoid stepping on an escaping crab or the gull that is in hot pursuit. There are also processions on Good Friday that start from the church (I think) and carry the image of Christ and the Virgin Mary through town, returning to end at the same church. It's quite an amazing sight. The streets are closed for the processions, and people line the streets and pack the Plaza de Armas in hopes of getting glimpse of the spectacle, with the devout following throughout the entire route. And in the morning, the men and boys usually go fishing while the women stay in the house and prepare the fish and the rest of the food for the day's meals. After that chore, I usually read in the garden, which is huge and green and filled with pink and purple blooming buganvillia trees, or play with the dog. There's no Easter Egg hunt, no Easter basket, no Easter Bunny. Wah.
All in all, it's a nice week, filled with interesting things to do and see. At the end of the week, we pack our things to head home. It's at this time that it's usually announced that Aunt So&So has gained so much weight by eating too many fish heads that those who originally packed into the one car can't possibly fit into it for the 4 hour ride home. And being the good boy that he was raised to be, Omar usually offers seats in our car to those who would have been at the bottom of the pile in the other car. It's in this way that family members subtlely take advantage of one another. We never refuse. We would never consider refusing...unless there were fish heads brought as an after-Easter snack.
This year, Omar's in Trujillo with his brothers, so Celeste and I are on our own. No sign or scent of fish here. It's still been a vegetarian week, and keeping in mind that I don't bake in this heat, here are a few quick and easy although probably not peruvian things on my menu:
Fried Granny Smith apples
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Fried zuchini squash with new red potatoes, onions, and tomatoes
any above served with hot black tea
Twice cooked yellow chili peppers stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and onions
Fresh lettuce/tomato/cuke/carrot salad with lime juice and salt
Fried eggplant with cheese and fresh tomato/red wine sauce on french bread
Spicy tomato soup with shrimp and lime juice (okay here's a nod to the sea, but only a nod!)
any above serves with lime water or cebada
Anything from the first two menus, freshened up with ensalada criolla (shredded onion, marinated in lime juice and salt, with fresh mint leaves added at the last moment)
- O - throw it all out the window and have...
Pear and apple slices with good bleu cheese and a small glass of dry red wine...My favorite!