I hung out with a friend down by the Malecon in Lima one day. That’s the seaside boardwalk overlooking the Pacific. It felt a lot like being in Montreal, but with a dramatic ocean view. Okay, so maybe it felt more like being in St. John’s, NL, but, you know, hot…
Hot enough that we needed to get a cremolada. This is not ice cream. It’s not exactly a slushie, but it’s somewhere in between, most similar to a granita, and mostly dairy-free. But in Peru Italian granita means exotic fruit flavours. And Curich has the best selection.
Curich is a cremoladeria that started up north and moved down to Lima. It has about 20 flavours of slushed, sweetened pure fruit flavours. There are maybe some preservatives or thickeners in there. I don’t know, but boy is it good. It’s probably even sweetened with cane sugar and not corn syrup, because it’s Peru and that’s what they have a lot of here – unrefined panela (cane sugar).
The shop itself is really cute. It’s all bright colours, open air patio in front, and 2 women in the back who never seem to like me because I ask for too many samples before choosing which flavours I want. the problem is there are 20 flavours or so (most are dairy-free. A few have dairy, such as the lucuma), and I want to try them all before choosing because a two-flavour medium cup of the stuff is really expensive! 4.50 soles I think! That’s highway robbery in Lima, but you’re paying for quality, so it’s really not. It’s just only justifiable occasionally, not all the time.
Which is another reason you need to make your cremolada choice carefully. Remember that everything in Lima is over-sweetened to North American standards, so my favourite flavours were the sweet-and-sour ones. Except the lime, which just wasn’t anywhere near sour enough. The tamarind and ciruela was exceptional (though the fun of ciruela is biting into the real fruit and having it burst in your mouth like a gusher candy). The mango, watermelon and cantaloupe were a bit bland because they were too sweet. There was also chocolate, coconut, pear, peach, strawberry, guanabana, cherimoya, aguaymanto (gooseberry), orange, maracuya (passionfruit), carambola, algarrobina, lemongrass, chicha morada, pina colada, tumbo (this fluffy sweet stuff around a bean in a long green casing like lima beans or oversized shelling peas), grape, and simple vanilla. The aguaje was my favourite. It’s starchy and thicker and a little like a cooked sweet potato in texture. It’s not as rich as lucuma, either, so you can eat all of it without feeling uncomfortably full.
I don’t even recognize all the names of fruit here, and neither did my Limenan friends. So I didn’t feel so bad. The tuna is the prickly pear. It’s pretty good. Basically my recommendation is to buy a cremolada and bring a lime with you, then squeeze the lime juice over the cremolada. THEN it’ll be perfect. Any flavour.
Most cremolada places in Lima sell from frozen vats or rotating slushie machines in convenience stores. Curich is SO much better. And finally you’re not supporting Nestle (they own D’Anafria, which own most of Peru’s ice cream culture).
755 Bolognesi, between Tripoli and Venecia (great shout-out to the granita’s Italian origins)
How much: $2 for a medium cup