Peru / South America

The Mystery of the Inca Trail Cake

The Incans were an indigenous population that existed for about 100 years in the Andes ranges in Peru. In the 1500s the Spanish came with their fancy guns and killed them all and stole all their gold. Now, we gringos get to pay lots of money for local guides to take us walking down the ancient Inca Trail and listen to us complain about being le tired and throwing up from altitude sickness.

I guess most participants would comment on the wonderful landscape that we were taken through, the achievement of treking through the high altitude, and the breathtaking grandeur of Machu Picchu. I was super impressed by the food.

We took a Gap Adventures tour, and our guide boasted that amongst the 24 porters that we had carrying our gear, we had a cook – and that he was the best cook in the company.  And oh boy, he was damn good. So good I guess I’m blogging about it.

The highlight of his cullinary expertise on the trail was on the third and final day of the trek. Our guide after our yummy lunch tells us that the chef has a surprise for us. The chef walks in with a huge smile on his face and he’s holding a cake. A cake that he had made. A cake that he had time to make after he helped pack up our campsite from the previous night, trekked through the trail with supplies on his back, beat us to our destination by many hours, cooked our massive lunch, after doing all these compulsory tasks he still had time to make a freakin cake. I don’t know if you get the significance of this. He managed to bake a cake and make icing for it and wait for the cake to cool and to decorate it too. All done on a propane gas burner at over 3000m altitude in the middle of nowhere. If Bear Grylls and Jamie Oliver had a Peruvian lovechild it would totally be the guy. Oh, and the cake was delicious, it was a moist spongecake, the icing was fluffy and a right amount of sweet.

Here is a FAQ I have compiled with questions about this cake:

Q. Could he have bought it?
A. No. There are no shops that sell cake on the Inca Trail. If he had bought the cake before we left, the cake would have been 3 days old by the time we ate it and it would have been stale. This cake was clearly freshly baked. You can always tell.

Q. How did he cook it? Did he have an oven?
A. I have NO IDEA. He only had a propane gas burner. Ideas include using a bain-marie or a dutch oven. But I ruled dutch oven out because he didn’t have coals to cook with.

Q. Did you ask for the recipe and how to make it on a campsite?
A. Yes, but the cook said that it was a secret. What an ass.

Q. So you went to Macchu Picchu and the Inca Trail and all you can talk about is a cake?
A. It was a really good cake.

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