Guatemala, Almuerzo y Cena

cimg1096I love to visit markets in different parts of the world where I can see how people buy the food that cook. The above photo was taken at the Saturday morning market in Santiago Atitlan. Many villages in this area of Lake Atitlan grow the small onions you see above, meticulously cleaning them at the lake shore before transporting them to market in large baskets.

Vegetables with Pepin Sauce
Vegetables with Pepin Sauce

Vegetarian lunches and dinners were easy to locate in Guatemala. While larger tourist centers offer a wide range of international food, there are also traditional Guatemalan dishes that have no meat. The above is a dish that I ordered at La Fonda de Calle Real in Antigu – potatoes, green beans and chaote in pepin suace, served in a banana leaf with a side of rice pilaf. Pepin suace is made with roasted pumpking and seseme seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and roasted plum tomatoes.

Rice
Rice

Rice is usually prepared with finely diced carrots and green peppers, peas or green beans. This preparation is so popular, you can buy carrots and beans pre-diced, in bulk, at any food market.

Plato Vegetariano
Plato Vegetariano

This plato vegetariano from Comida Tipica Kaquikel (a type of people in and language in the Lake Atitlan region)in Panajachel incorporates many of the food items the also appear in breakfasts – rice, beans, cheese and guacemole. Rice and beans is perhaps the most common dinner in Guatemala, but this “plato” added steamed vegetables, a half of a boiled plantain, and a dab of mayonaise (which I skipped). It was just the right amount of food!

Cucumber Salad
Cucumber Salad

This basic cucumber salad with onions and yogurt gets dressed up with the addition of black sesame seeds, tomato, and a sprig of cilantro.

Corn Tortillas
Corn Tortillas

It’s not a meal without a basket of hot, fresh, handmade corn tortillas. The smell amazing, and the quick grilling on a large griddle sears them with a toasted corn flavor.

Fresh Salad
Fresh Salad

Cucumber, vine ripened tomatoes, avocado, onion, red onion, grated carrot, and just a dash of oil and vinegar. Heaven.

Schezuan Eggplant
Schezuan Eggplant

The restaurant at Posada de Santiago does international food right. While my schezuan eggplant was’nt at all spicy, it was coated in in yummy sweet soy sauce and the pieces of eggplant were still firm with an almost thick, yet still tender skin.

Thai green curry
Thai green curry

On the other hand, international food can go horribly wrong. This green thai “curry,” served at La Casa del Mundo, was the only dissapointing meal I had my entire trip. It was not spicy, it did not taste at all likely curry, I don’t know where the “green” description came from, and it was served on a bed of spaghetti. This meal is a perfect example of why I avoid “international” food when traveling – what the locals cook best is food traditional to the region.

Cheese Quesadillas
Cheese Quesadillas

Not at all native to Guatemala, the cheese quesadillas, picked up in Zona Viva, Guatemala City, were still a tasty late dinner for Senor Lanky, served with an assortment of salsa, mild grilled green onions, guacemole and fresh pineapple.

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Guatemala, Desayuno

Chicken Bus
Chicken Bus

I’ve returned from Guatemala, and am still adjusting to the cold, rainy weather of Philadelphia. While the above photo isn’t of food, the “chicken bus” or public bus is commonly used to transport food from villages to town markets, and then back again, either inside the bus or in large baskets attached to the racks on top. The above bus is in the market at Antigua, and heads to San Lucas.

Desayuno Tipica
Desayuno Tipica

Breakfast is the easiest meal for vegetarian in Guatemala. The desayuno tipica, or typical breakfast, consists of eggs (in some style), black beans, fried plantains, cheese (though I got the above breakfast, at Las Brisas comedor in Santiago Atitlan, with guacemole instead).

Huevos Revueltos
Huevos Revueltos

Scrambled eggs, especially with tomato and onion, are called Huevos Revueltos. And fried potatoes in Guate are not messing around. Just look at those hunks of deep-fried goodness. Serves with salsa, and Senor Lanky’s singular “side” of bacon.

Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros, or Mexican-style eggs, are usually just fried eggs served with a side of tomato salsa, and not at all spicy. You have to add your own chili sauce, and I added it plentifully. Shown here shaded by a palm tree at a little place called Posada de Jabailito in Jabailito, Lake Atitlan.

Desayuno mas typica
Desayuno mas typica

I ordered this very basic breakfast at a small food stand in the center of the Sunday market at ChiChicastenango. Just beans, scrambled eggs and rice with salsa, and of course, fresh corn tortillas. And sweet, instant coffee. Delicious, and around $1.20.

Crepes
Crepes

More exciting, these crepes (which are very popular in Guatemala, perhaps due to the international expat scene) were served to me at La Iguana Perdida in Santa Cruz. Sweet, and stuffed with black beans, eggs, and cheese (are you picking up on a theme yet?)

Macademia Nut Pancakes
Macademia Nut Pancakes

Guatemalans LOVE pancaques, or pancakes. We hiked two hours outside of Antigua to Valhalla, and experimental macadamia nut plantation, for the beauties. Studded with nuts, topped with fresh macadamia nut butter and blueberries, and served with a side of fresh papaya, they were worth it.

Blue Corn Pancakes
Blue Corn Pancakes

The hotel Posada de Santiago in Santiago Atitlan is famous for their blue corn pancakes, and rightly so. I ordered two of these beauties, served with macademia nut syrup, and two fried eggs, which, alongside a bowl of fresh fruit, got me through a long drive to Guatemala City. Notice how orange the yolks of the eggs are. It’s called free-range, and not corn-fed, and infinitely more tasty.

Fruit Bowl
Fruit Bowl

The fruit, especially the papaya, bananas and fresh pineapple, are out this world. I miss it already.