When your Peruvian seat mate on the Lima-Arequipa flight, a 30 year veteran of the airlines and your airport cab drivers both wax rhapsodic about Arequipa's food and tell you that lunching at La Nueva Palomino is a must------well, you're going to go.
We waited until the Monday after Easter to have lunch there, assuming that we'd avoid the Holy Week crowds. Wrong.
The place was packed and we were led through room after room in the sprawling restaurant until we picked a thatched roofed partially open round room rapidly filling with large family groups and businessmen.
When we asked a waiter if Monday was also a holiday, he said no, it's always like this at the Palomino. Another good sign.
La Nueva Palomino is a picanteria, unique to Arequipa, that serves the traditional foods of the region, which include things like guinea pig (cuy) and fried cows udder (but not on the day we were there), stews and lots of barbecued meats.
Our order included the must try, Rocoto Relleno (a large hot red pepper stuffed with a spiced ground meat) and to sooth a seared palate, an accompaniment of pastel de papas (a potato gratin). Very delicious. The other dish was Trucha Frita, a very large pink trout with a red powdered seasoning. Superb.
The setting, the great food and the waitresses in traditional costumes, made us feel like culinary anthropologists, digging deep into Arequipa's links with its colonial and agrarian past.
Oh yes, La Nueva Palomino, like all picanterias, is only open for lunch (11-5:30 daily).
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