Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pisco Sour: Peruvian - or Chilean?

Well I've never been to Spain, but I kinda like the music - hey, wait a minute - I have been to Spain. Doh! It's Chile I haven't been to. Spanish-speaking country, yes - but it's not Spain.

The Esmeralda
Not that I've actually been to Chile, mind you. My travels have taken me to three different South American countries: Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The closest I've come to being in Chile was aboard the tall ship Esmeralda, which was docked in North Vancouver, Monday. I was there by invitation of the Chile Board of Tourism to experience the event, "Flavors of Chile." 

There were certainly some good flavors aboard the tall ship ... asparagus spears wrapped in smoked salmon, salmon ceviche, some mini-pastry meat pies, empanadas and plenty of sweets for desert. Oh, I mustn't forget about the good cross-section of Chilean wines available for sampling.

But for me, when you're talking about Chile and alcohol, it all goes sour - Pisco Sour, that is.

Pisco Sours are considered by many to be the national drink of Chile. That's very interesting, because many Peruvians also call it their national drink.

When I visited Peru in 2008, I was told there is a big debate between the two countries as to which country actually invented the drink.

For those unfamiliar with the drink, it's a cocktail containing pisco, lemon lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters. When I was in Peru, I had it made for me at Lucma Lodge, part of the Mountain Lodges of Peru. In Peru, they actually call limes "lemons," at least they look like what we call lemons in North America. Regardless, the Pisco sours there were the best I've had anywhere. And I've had them in restaurants in Lima, Cuzco and even Vancouver. And of course, on the Esmeralda in North Van.  

A Pisco Sour

I have to say, if taste is any indication, Peru would get my vote. Now I'm not sure if the ones we had on the Esmeralda used local Pisco or if it was brought all the way from South America. I do know that the quality of Pisco you can purchase at BCLC stores is not as good quality as the stuff you get in Peru, or probably, in Chile.

I guess the only way to settle this, at least in my mind, is to go to Chile and sample the local Pisco Sours there and then draw my conclusion by comparing them with what I had in Peru in 2008.

Of course, while I'm there, I'll probably manage to work in an excursion or two to see Patagonian conures in the wild, as there are some of those birds (also known as burrowing parrots) in that country. I've seen them in captivity here in North America, actually handled one quite regularly at the old facility for the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Surrey, B.C. - Spook was a real sweetie! - but nothing beats seeing them in the wild.

And with the combination of parrots and Pisco, you really can't go wrong.

For more photos from this event, visit my photo album on Facebook:

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