It’s no secret that one of my favorite Peruvian dishes is Lomo Saltado, the Chinese-Peruvian beef stir-fry with French fries, but whenever I get together with my family, my mom often reminds me of a train ride we took many years ago. And when we recall this story, one thing is certain, I love to eat steak — under any circumstances, I will take the time to truly savor it, medium rare, bloody to the last drop.
I was a little boy, and we were on a train ride in the Andes mountains that would take us through Ticlio, which at 16,000 ft. above sea level was the highest train pass in the world then. Last year, I ran the Inca Trail Marathon which climbed to Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,000 ft. — and Ticlio was another 3,000 ft. higher. In other words, that is pretty high up, and at that altitude it’s difficult to breath, walk, run, or even eat.
But it was lunch time, and I was hungry, so my mom ordered a steak sanguich with French fries from the lunch wagon. Grabbing the sanguich with both hands, the juice from the steak was running down my little elbows, and my cheeks were turning red, as I devoured my sanguich. Meanwhile, tourists and sailors that had boarded in Lima, were turning blue in the face, passing out, or getting sick to their stomachs.
Some passengers even decided to leave the train in order to acclimate to the altitude or perhaps to avoid the sight of me enjoying my steak sanguich with such gusto. To this day, I still get a profound feeling of joy whenever I have a steak sanguich. We go back a long way. And though now I usually enjoy my meals at sea level, you can be sure that not matter at what altitude I find myself, eating will always be a true pleasure.