When I’d heard about “this place where you can get beef’s heart on a skewer” my stomach turned just ever so slightly. I usually have trouble chewing through a steak, let alone eating the organ that pumps blood through the entire body of a cow.
I reminded myself that I’m here in Peru to experience something a little different… something that perhaps I wouldn’t do at home. So I put my fears aside, opened my mind and jumped on a bus with Julio into Miraflores on the hunt for some red meat.
I say ‘hunt’ because it literally was. After hopping off the stop-start local bus about 10 blocks too early, we found ourselves geographically challenged and sought the assistance of a taxi driver to lead us to where the aroma of sizzling beef filled the air.
Ninety minutes after leaving home – our bellies grumbling from the journey – we had found our dinner. On a street corner in the Miraflores district, crowds of people hovered around the small food stand: the young, the old, the locals, the tourists.
A team of about 8 cooks dressed in pristine white toques and jackets with navy blue embroidered labels reading “Grimanesa Anticuchera” worked quietly and humbly to serve customers one by one. Each cook played an individual but important role: preparing the kebabs, basting the meat in a seasoned marinade, braising the surface of the meat with a sharp knife as it sizzled on the barbecue.
Others helped to monitor the heat of the flame, stoking it regularly and turning the kebabs over and over, basting the meat until the marinade soaked right through.
Hungry patrons waited eagerly in line to have their order taken. We passed the first stage of the ordering process and so the waiting game began. With a crowd of about 50 people, we overtook the footpath and spilled out on to the road as we waited in anticipation for our Anticuchos. Barbecue smoke consumed the air, embedded in our clothes and made our stomachs grumble.
We listened intently for our number to be called. “Treinta y cinco” (35) … “Treinta y seis” (36) … “Treinta y siete” (37). Our ticket read number 49.
Half an hour later, our number was finally called. And it was worth the wait!
The kebabs, served on potatoes with a rather spicy chili sauce, were delicious. It was marinated beautifully, and if I hadn’t have been told, I wouldn’t have known it was beef heart. Of course – this makes me a little nervous of what else I may have eaten over the last few weeks without knowing. Let’s just hope it wasn’t my cute little friend, the guinea pig.
Anticuchos of Tia Grima is located between blocks 11 and 12, on the corner of Enrique Palacios and 27 de Noviembre, Miraflores. For more details, visit their website www.anticuchosdelatiagrima.com
Eleanor Tan is a researcher and blogger for the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.