January 21, 2011

Quinoa and Peru

No matter how many times you see it, this is amazing

Machu Picchu. Yes, it is amazing

KEEN-WAH. Yes, that’s how you pronounce QUINOA and if you are not yet familiar with this super food, let us tell you about it. Quinoa is gluten free and wheat free, and is very high in protein – and a complete protein at that. It’s a hardy grain-like plant with tasty nutritious seeds that are easily cooked like rice or couscous. Here is one of my favorite quinoa recipes .

OK, how does this relate to family adventure you might ask? Well quinoa, along with corn and potatoes, was a staple food of the Incas (who considered quinoa to be sacred) and is still a staple in Peru. And Peru happens to be one of my favorite places on this earth.

2011 is a big year for Peru, as it marks the centenary of Hiram Bingham’s ‘discovery’ of Machu Picchu. Admittedly many knew of its existence before him – but he was the one who brought this to the world. On July 24, 1911 he climbed up from his camp at Mandorpampa to discover for himself these magnificent ruins that he was really not so interested in until he saw them – and became inspired. He writes: “In the variety of its charms the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it.”

This will be true of most people arriving at Machu Picchu for the first time (or maybe even the second and third!) You know about it, you’ve seen photos – but you can’t quite imagine the reality of it. It is simply breathtaking.

I was lucky enough to see these ruins (can we really call them “ruins”????) up close and front on, but also from a unique back-view on an awesome trek. No, not the “Inca Trail Trek” as you know it (crowded! Littered! Hard to get permits!) – but something really special. Let me know if you want to know more about this.

So come this summer, at the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s discovery. Summer 2011 is a great time to reflect on the explorers of the olden days, while doing some exploring of your own.

Oh, by the way… you’ll find quinoa in Ecuador too, another amazing spot to visit….

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