Queso helado? That’s cheese ice cream! Well, I never.
Wherein does my cheeselove come from? In the U.S. we practically worship amber waves of cheddar and mozzarella mountain majesties, so there’s that patriotic peer pressure. And, although I’ve lived for 15 years in San Francisco, veganism — locally, one of the most popular radical diets — holds as little appeal as, well, giving up cheese does. Therein: my lifelong cheeselove.
Yet, despite my cheeselove ways, queso helado Arequipeño hadn’t made it onto my list of must-try foods in Arequipa, Peru.
That’s right: Cheese ice cream. Ponder that culinary concept for just a minute.
In the shade of a tall archway in a white stone wall surrounding the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa’s Yanahuara neighborhood, a crowd just released from church gathers around a small cart. After the crowd clears, Todd and I wander over and see a half-depleted vat of golden-colored ice cream.
The woman wielding the ice cream scoop tells us it’s queso helado, Arequipa’s special ice cream. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and — really who needs a reason? Queso helado means “cheese ice cream,” and cheese ice cream means “git in mah belly.”
When my camera comes out to take the obligatory travel food porn photos, a woman clothed head-to-toe in the bright yellow uniform of the Helados D’Onofrio ice cream megabrand runs over, grabbing the entrepreneurial queso helado vendor in a bear hug.
“Vas a estar una estrella!” she exclaims to her now blushing friend. You’re gonna be a star!
I’d have thought these women would have been fierce competitors for the plaza’s ice cream business, but they’re clearly good friends — giggling, whispering in each other’s ears, and hugging some more as Todd and I take our first taste of queso helado.
With a single lick, it’s clear that queso helado holds no cheese in its ice crystals, or even any artificial cheese flavor. It tastes slightly of cinnamon, vanilla, and perhaps coconut, but mostly of milk. The frosty texture is more like shaved ice than a the fat-packed ice cream I’d anticipated.
But, for just 1 Peruvian sole for a pequeño serving on a hot day, cheeselovers can’t be choosers.
Delicacies! Walking and enjoy it. Yah!!! That’s great. I will try it soon!!!
Thanks for sharing
I’m always ready to try something tasty and new, glad you are to!
So was it tasty even though it wasn’t cheese flavored?
It was very refreshing on a hot day, but there’s much better ice cream out there. The experience though, that was tasty!
I tried it when I was in Peru last year and it was oh, so good! Like you said, it goes down very well in hot afternoons sitting down at the Plaza de Armas. Thanks for bringing back some memories!
hah that actually sounds good!! Thanks for sharing :)
Let me know if you make it out here to Korea anytime soon!
This post is so good! I’ve linked this into my Arequipa blog post, seeing as I didn’t take any photos of the actual ice cream (too busy eating it to think of my camera.)
Hope your travels are going fantastic!
Excellent! I love your post
Thanks for sharing
What do you think about Vietnamese Banh Mi?
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