Neither Kay or I realized when we got to Puno that its elevation would affect us with altitude sickness already. We both had headaches, a bit of nausea, a general sense of feeling unwell, and were really winded walking around. My headache felt like a vague hangover with stuffed up ears, but soon I realized that my stomach was upset probably due to the altitude and not food we had eaten.
For our first dinner, we went to Mojsa Restaurant in the main square and ordered some coca tea to help our headaches.Our waitress was American and I was really happy to know that she knew what gluten was and could recommend several things to me.
I ordered the Sirloin steak with Andean chimichurri, golden huayro and sweet potatoes, and parsley alioli sauce before getting pretty sick and running to the bathroom several times. When I came back, I’d lost my appetite completely (another symptom of altitude sickness) and it was a shame because my food looked really yummy.As I mentioned in our homestay post, we spent the next day in the care of locals who cooked mainly corn and potatoes, all gluten free. The soup below was absolutely delicious and vegetarian, with fresh muña tea herbs for our tea.Also at lunch after the soup, we got a big bowl of various potatoes, some carrots I think, as well as a big piece of salty goat cheese.I was really impressed with the cooking the entire homestay because the kitchen was basically a small hovel off the eating area. It looked more like a barn or trash room because the family always swept everything from the eating area into the small kitchen space so that they could pick things up to burn later on. I was SO curious to see how they really cooked in a space like that. It was very small and cramped, with no vents for the smoke.For dinner we had a kind of carrot and potato mix with rice.The next morning I was concerned when our mama served us what looked like pancakes. Communicating with Kay’s Portuñol to their dialect of Quechua was a little tricky, but we verified that there was no “Harina de Trigo” and that it should just be made out of corn, so I ate my pancakes with coca tea and they were delicious.Next on our homestay tour, we had left Amantaní Island and headed to Taquile Island where we had a big goodbye lunch before heading back to Puno. Here I asked our guide to make sure the food was OK for me. First up was some quinoa soup. We realized on the trip that quinoa, which we eat so often now with my celiac diet, often comes from Peru, and that the local diet uses it heavily, to my benefit.For lunch we had a choice and I picked fresh fish with a side of rice, fries, and some veggies. I also purchases an additional Coke out of the homestay package because I felt icky and headachey and it took my headache right away. After that, I pretty much felt fine and headache-free from the altitude for the rest of the trip. Still extra winded though. 😉Back in Puno, I wanted to go back to Mojsa Restaurant because I didn’t believe that the food had made me sick and I really wanted to try their gluten free brownie for dessert. It really had to be the altitude, which is quite a common reaction from travelers.
Kay and I decided to split a ceviche as our appetizer because we hadn’t had it in Lima yet and it was delicious, it was trout ceviche with sweet potatoes and crunchy corn. If you are heading to Peru, make sure to try this signature Peruvian dish of fish cured in citrus. For my main, I got the grilled trout fillet with a passion fruit and rocoto pepper sauce, served with sautéed vegetables. And a Pisco Sour, because we’d hiked a tough walk on Amantaní Island. 😉For dessert, I got my brownie and shared a tiny bit with Kay, who was quite stuffed himself.On our fourth day in Puno, we thought we’d try something else out and we had the dreaded breakfast search, which is honestly still the worst part of traveling as a celiac. I’d eaten a snack bar or two before we found Cafe Bar de la Casa del Corregidor, which seemed like it was the cafe of a kind of hostel in the area.Muña tea and espresso were ordered, as well as juice because it was breakfast for us.The menu was not extremely gluten-free friendly, but I got some kind of frittata that met my needs.We also decided to split some chicken kebabs. Looking at them is making me hungry again.After we walked up to the Condor in Puno, we stopped at the cafe again for some classic Inca Kola, which is like bubble gum flavored pop.I also ordered a quinoa soup because breakfast didn’t fill me enough.And they were so kind to give us more corn to munch on.For our last meal before our night bus to Cusco, we just went back to Mojsa Restaurant again. I’m still not one for repeats, but it makes life so much easier as a celiac when you know there is a safe restaurant with decent food. I’m making peace with the lack of spontaneity because I don’t have a choice in the matter. What makes life easy, makes life easy.
Because it happened to be our 4th anniversary that night, I decided to go all out and try their kitschy oven baked guinea pig served with sweet potato puree, orange sauce and a small rocoto pepper and tomato salad. Yep, that is a guinea pig and this lady had no shame in eating it. It was GLUTEN FREE!It tasted alright, maybe a bit more gamey than chicken or beef. It was a bit hard to get all the meat off the bone though and I ended up finishing it chicken-wings style.
For dessert, we opted to split the second gluten free dessert, which was a kind of hot, sweet, quinoa porridge with raisins. It was very filling.Up next, we arrive in Cusco the days we’d planned to acclimatize to the altitude we just encountered in Puno. Oops.
More from our trip to Peru: