Tom and Lucia Findley, in matching Peru aprons, took guests on a culinary visit to Peru — for a good cause.
Thanks to the shrewd bidding by a couple of friends, eight of us last weekend took a culinary trip to Peru. Fortunately, the trek was only about 30 miles — to Tellico Village and the home of Tom and Lucia Findley.
This interesting and generous couple moved to Knoxville from Peru, her native country, and offered an authentic Peruvian lunch as an auction item at a Centro Hispano de East Tennessee fundraising event recently. That’s where Dawn Ford and Rosa Mar went in together to purchase it. And their invited friends also were the beneficiaries.
Tom and Lucia are one of those couples you sometimes hear about who are looking for a place to retire and visit locations all over the country and then choose East Tennessee to make their home. “When we came here, we just knew it was right for us,” Tom said. “I can’t explain it. We just knew.”
Lucia is not actually retired. After a career in banking and finance in South America, this multilingual (English, Spanish and Portuguese) ball of fire currently works as a Realtor with Lakeside Real Estate Group. Both she and Tom are active in the Tellico Village community — especially in all things culinary, from organizing cooking contests to informal gatherings.
Their home is filled with all kinds of vibrant Peruvian art which they love to show off and discuss. Their eight guests this weekend appreciated the opportunity to experience a little slice of Peru so close to home.
Colorful Peruvian art shines in the Findleys’ comfortable living room.
Who knew? Peru is home to 2,000 different kinds of potatoes! So, we started lunch with a variety of potato chips.
And some actual potatoes. With the pièce de résistance — Huancaina sauce, a very popular Peruvian condiment that features mild yellow chiles. It was fantastic — and strangely addicting.
A lot of the tapestries were the work of Maximo Laura, a favorite of the Findleys.
I really liked this one, too.
While we discussed art and Lucia was busy in the kitchen, Tom made us some delicious Pisco sours.
Pisco is a popular — and deservedly so! — Peruvian brandy. Here’s the recipe for a Pisco sour: 2 parts Pisco, 1 part simple syrup, 1 part lime juice — all shaken with egg whites and ice. Strain into a small glass and top with three drops of bitters.
Here’s my Pisco sour in an adorable cocktail glass featuring a llama. Loved it.
The Findleys also collect retablos — mostly religious iconography contained in little boxes. They originated as altars, Tom said.
From left, Diana Condon, Helen Hewitt and Julia Bentley enjoying the discussion — and the appetizers and Pisco sours.
Rosa Mar, left, and Kathy Hamilton also were entranced by the discussion.
Our next appetizers were pork tamales that Lucia divided into small portions so they wouldn’t be too filling.
Here’s a big secret! As you probably know, tamales are a pain in the rear to make. Lucia says she has found a wonderful place to buy them — La Lupita in Lenoir City, Tennessee. That’s where these were made.
Loved these cute sculptures of musicians.
Jeannie Dulaney, left, and Dawn Ford relaxing with some Pisco sours.
The final appetizer was raw tuna in a soy-ginger sauce. Everyone raved about it.
And then it was time for the main course.
Many of the recipes came from this cookbook.
Whereas I consider a cookbook to be a wise investment if I find just one or two recipes that I love, the bookmarks in this cookbook show that it is much more valuable than that!
The quinoa salad was a knockout.
The chicken stew — aji de gallina — was stewing away! It’s also known as “Peruvian comfort food!”
The beef stew proved to be pretty comforting, as well.
And arroz con pollo, a traditional dish of Spain and South America, is a relative of paella.
Dig in, everybody!
Here’s Helen with a beautiful plate.
And mine. Delish.
We had red and white wine with lunch. Some of the wine was from Chile. Tom offered this advice: food from Peru and wine from Chile is a great combination. But you never want wine from Peru and food from Chile! Wine from Peru is not so great, he said. Ha.
Tom serving an assortment of after-dinner drinks in cute little glasses.
Which called for a toast!
And then — dessert, which was unbelievable. Alfajores are basically shortbread cookies filled with caramel. Whew, they were delicious!
And, with that, our indulgent culinary trip to Peru came to an end.
Here’s an obligatory group shot taken by Tom. From left, me, Julia Bentley, Jeannie Dulaney, Dawn Ford, Rosa Mar, Lucia Findley, Kathy Hamilton, Diana Condon and Helen Hewitt. Trust me on this: none of us ate dinner that night!