When we started Peru Delights, and I was trying to expand my range of Peruvian veggie recipes, my mother mentioned a name I hadn’t heard before: Escribano Arequipeno. I had heard the word escribano before, but only because it means “notary”, or “court clerk” in Spanish. I didn’t have the slightest idea, however, that this was a traditional dish from Arequipa. Along with this new piece of information, I also learned that this potato mash got the unlikely name because judges, lawyers, and clerks in this southern city, would go to their neighborhood eateries to keep discussing work, and carelessly mixed and ate the typical potatoes, tomatoes, and rocotoserved as hors d’oeuvres. Wether this is a real story or just another urban legend, I don’t know. But what I do know, now that I’ve tried the recipe, is that escribano is easier in the mouth, than it is on the eyes, so don’t let its unpolished look fool you.
Yes, it’s true. A large percentage of Peruvian food has the misfortune of being quite unattractive and unphotogenic. To enter this endless world of flavors and textures, one needs to take a leap of faith and taste the dishes before judging them. Escribano is certainly one of these deceiving foods: you wouldn’t think much of it just by looking at it, but after trying it, the story may change. Just take my man’s first reaction to its taste as an example: “This is an amazing potato salad! It may even be the best potato salad I’ve ever had! It may even be better than my mother’s potato salad, and her potato salad was really, really good!” (His mother was Austrian, and made the authentic German potato salad, so I’m assuming it was very good indeed.) He then went ahead and fried two eggs to eat with “the best potato salad” he had ever had, that all of a sudden seemed to had acquired the role of mashed potatoes. This is what’s so good about the simple “appetizer” …or “side dish“. Escribano is versatile, and it tastes damn good. What more do you need in a dish?
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 3 chopped potatoes
- 1 chopped rocoto (or any red hot chili pepper)
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ cup oil (I used olive)
- A handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mash coarsely.