It is morning in our home in Barranco, a district of Lima, Peru.
Not long after breakfast, the house begins to resonate with the sounds of rhythmic chopping (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP…). It is the knife of the cook cutting the vegetables we are going to eat for lunch. Our cook, Jessie, is cutting carrots, green beans, spinach, squash and other vegetables into chunks.
Some of these chunks are cooked and then placed in the food processor, which generates a rather irritating WHIRR, WHIRR…, sound, to reduce them into a liquid that will eventually turn out to be our soup for the day. Other chunks (I’m sorry, but I don’t know the technical terms for the various ways that vegetables are sliced) will go into the salad or may be part of the main dish.
Jessie works off and on throughout the morning to produce the lunch which, in our house, will be served at exactly 1:00 PM. Vegetables are a big part of the lunch, comprising the soup mentioned earlier, a salad and other vegetables served with a small portion of meat or fish. On some days, for example, when we have beans or lentils, no meat is served.
Once a week we go to the market to buy a huge bag of vegetables. They are cheap, of wonderful quality and abundant. We don’t use frozen or canned in our house. That means a lot more work for someone, but it is worth it.
In our house, lunch is the main meal of the day. The evening meal, we called it supper in my boyhood home in California, is just some bread or left-over salad with tea.
As you might imagine, all this meant a big change for me.
In California, I was used to having my big meal in the evening and scrounging a sandwich or hamburger at lunch. Mostly, as a typical Californian, I was on the run. and couldn’t be bothered to have a decent meal at mid-day.
Also, still referring to my previous life, for the evening meal, it was usual for me to live out of the freezer… frozen vegetables, frozen dinners, frozen pizzas….. frozen everything. Some items also came out of cans, but less so. It was a convenient life-style and much less work was involved with the preparation of food than I observe now in Peru.
Let’s face it. I have described the American way of eating these days and, unfortunately, it is spreading to other parts of the world, including Peru. That saddens me because I am realizing the benefits of the slower life-style.
Well, I’m not going to preach to you about how this change of life-style regarding food has improved my life. But I will tell you that my most recent blood test had my doctor give me a standing round of applause.
So now when I sit down for lunch and spoon in some delicious deep green spinach soup and a main course of vainitas ( sliced green beans with small chunks of pork), with rice and a green salad, I think back to that CHOP, CHOP, CHOP…. WHIRR, WHIRR and smile in appreciation.