The smells of your kitchen intoxicate my dreams, while images of little red river prawns dance in my head each night, tempting me to return to Arequipa. I’ve eaten crayfish before, even cooked them myself, but the flavors imparted naturally by the volcanic stone you cook upon cannot be matched by the spices we use in America.
On our first visit to Sonccollay you asked if we’d like to see our food in the kitchen and my face lit up immediately – I knew this meal was made in a 10,000 year old tradition, but this gesture demonstrated the love you put into each dish. The river prawns looked like little gems, roasting slowly in their own juices, no oil used, upon a flat black volcanic stone (which I’m sure imparts it’s own unique subtleties to the flavors).
I was amazed that the tomato soup was just that; tomato, crushed and simmering inside of a clay pot; and remember thinking ‘mmmmmm’ when I saw you throw our potatoes directly on the coals of the grill.
I love food and cooking, I love to know where my food comes from, I am curious about the history and practices of all cultures, and am highly interested in methods and processes used by ancient peoples. All of these are topics that you touched upon in the kitchen alone. I was impressed.
When you brought the food to the table, you included a tomato/avocado salad – I could smell the freshness of the tomatoes before you even set the plate down. I ate that entire salad myself you know – Damany is lucky he ordered the tomato soup.
Being a lover of foods I can really experience without a fork & knife, I was super excited when you broke the potato open by hand and dipped it into the soup. Before even getting into the prawns I knew that this was about to be one of the best meals of my life.
As good as the tomatoes and the soup were though, the river prawns were beyond amazing (and are the true topic of this letter). I’ve always cooked crayfish with some sort of liquid base and lots of spices. They will never compare to yours. Your river prawns were cooked to perfection…so perfect in fact, that I’m not sure I’ve ever even meant it when I’ve stated that before. The flavor from the juices inside of the creatures head cooked slowly on that volcanic stone were naturally heavenly, tasting almost like the sea. It soaked into their tiny bodies in the process of cooking, but still there was some to be sucked out of the shell cavity left behind. They were so delicious I even took the time to extract the meat of their little-big claws.
As I said earlier, I love experiential food, and with messy meals come feelings of satisfaction for me. Hands red with the river creatures innards, I went through the entire tray of napkins you provided – a sign of culinary greatness in my book.
I dreamt of your prawns on our last night in Arequipa, I still dream of them now, I will probably continue to dream of them until we meet again (and I promise, we will). They were really that good.
I knew when I saw the sign outside stating “Living Museum and Restaurant” that Sonccollay would be one of those special places that I would remember forever, but I had no idea that the food, coupled with your magic, would keep me plotting many a return.
Portal de San Agustín 149
Terraza de la Plaza de Armas
Phone: 28 12 19 – 999 999 730 / 959 997 272