Suitcase and World: First things first, lunch!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First things first, lunch!!

We've settled into our rooms (spartan but comfortable) and gotten a street map. With a restaurant recommendation from the hotel receptionist, we hit the streets in search of lunch.

As we walked towards the restaurant, we passed under Arco Santa Catalina. The brightly colored archway is a symbol of this little town – you see it just about every write up there is on Antigua.

Though the map has street names listed and the city is very logically laid out – Avenidas in one direction, Calles in intersecting direction, we could not find street signs posted anywhere so navigation was simplified to counting street blocks – three blocks, take a left, two blocks, take a right, etc.

We found ourselves dining at a very nice little restaurant that served typical Guatemalan fare . We started lunch with some drinks. The wall placard advertised fruit juices which sounded sooooo refreshing after a walk on a warm Gautemalan day. We had a choice of the usual tropical fruits – mango, papaya, pineapple. Then, there was a fruit listed that none of us had ever heard of – marañon. Of course, we are the adventuresome foursome so maranon it was for all of us. We had absolutely no idea what we were ordering so we hoped it was going to be good :-)

The waitress placed glasses of orange colored liquid on the table. We each took sips of a very, very sweet (almost sickenly sweet) juice filled with tiny bits of pulp. Marañon. The flavor has a hint of jackfruit but besides that, I can’t really describe it. It’s not citrusy, it doesn’t taste like apple or pear or peach or any of the typical tropical fruits. Definitely, a unique flavor all its own. Not bad a but if I had it again, I would likely dilute it with either another fruit juice that’s not so naturally sweet or just some water. Then, and I don’t know how this came to him, Valiant said that he thought maranon was the fruit of the cashew nut. Huh? How on earth did he know this and was he right?

We asked the manager to show us the fruit and so he brought one over. Sure enough. It was a cashew fruit. The nut that we are familiar with is the curly thing at the bottom of the fruit. After having tasted the fruit, it dawned on me that it was such a shame that the fruit is so often discarded. I guess the nut is the valuable commodity. One nut per fruit.  No wonder cashews are so expensive!

Neither my brother nor I were too hungry so we both ordered tamales for lunch; the Ang Bros ate big as I had expected them – platters of stewed meat for each of them!
It was our introduction to typical Guatemalan cuisine - a lot of stewed meats, beans and corn - either cooked as a tamale or as a tortilla.  Very simple fare but always very tasty and filling.

Dessert was a plate of simply cooked (sautéed) plantains – very sweet and very flavorful.

It didn't take us long to gulp down our meal.  We quickly paid the bill and thanked the manager on our way out.  Time to hit the streets and see the town!!