One Million Bowls of Chicken-Feet Soup

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Is that chicken foot flipping me off?
  • Is that chicken foot flipping me off?
Peruvian food is good. I especially enjoy the seafood soups that can be bought for a few bucks at restaurants along the country’s long and beautiful coast. Papas huancaina, which is served across the country in one form or another, is also incredibly delicious, as are the large tamale-like juanes, which I’ve been told were created to memorialize the beheading of John the Baptist.

But on my recent trip across Northern Peru, I hit the wall when it comes to one aspect of Peruvian dining. Perhaps I’m getting a bit older and set in my ways, but chicken-feet soup for breakfast, which was the only thing available along one especially long trek through the Andes, finally did me in. I ate it anyway — personal weaknesses are no reason to insult the cook, after all — but the memory of chicken feet floating around in oily broth has been plaguing me for days.

It was good to experience this. Good travel teaches us as much about ourselves as it does about the places we visit. It was shocking to realize how much I craved a fried-egg sandwich after only a few short weeks, and how I was plotting to craft my own breakfast burrito as soon as I had access to a kitchen. Food, it seems, has as much, or maybe even more, to do with our comfort than the place we lay our head at night.

On a side note, Peru is currently experiencing a bit of a culinary renaissance thanks to chef Gastón Acurio, which will be fun to watch as the years roll on. Due to the country's amazing variety of landscape—from oceanside beach towns to deep Amazonian jungle villages, and everything between—the food is some of the most varied I've ever experienced. It seems it will only be a matter of time before American chefs catch on and start infusing their menus with some of the incredible flavors the country has to offer.

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