David Coveney

Gin Tonic in Lima Central

It was Douglas Adams that suggested that wherever you are in the universe, asking for something that sounds like “Gin and Tonic” will usually give you the same drink. Of course I’ve only been able to test this theory on Earth, but so far it had proven unbreakable. So in a non touristy town in Taiwan a “shintoniic” sound gave me a drink made from gin… and tonic. But if it can be broken, the Peruvians can break it….

Last night our request for two “GeenToneecs”, as listed on the menu, provoked an explosion of confusion with the staff at “Ellens House”, a bar round the corner from our hotel. After a few minutes two large glasses, with about 250ml of vodka arrived.

We pointed out the problem… that a G&T usually has gin in it. And tonic. The glasses were taken away, four bar staff held a conference, and they returned with… two glasses of vodka with a dash of sparkling mineral water. I took a gulp and my taste buds immediately caught fire. Another return… this prompted more confusion and they came back to say they were just nipping to the shops for a bottle of “agua tonica”. Ok… they were getting the idea. And then we got what I still think was vodka, with a dash of sparkling mineral water… and a dash of tonic. We gave up. Angelique had also failed to drink her “Baylez”… a cheap and eye watering version of Baileys.

Peruvian service is often like this. They do their best, bless ’em, but sometimes they’re caught out by their own menus. They then utilise a Just In Time system, as popularised in Japanese factories. This means having stock arrive just in time for manufacture – so saving on inventory costs and storage space. But for restaurants that just means that your entrée may well arrive after your main course because some of the ingredients involved sending a member of staff to the market with a shopping list in his hand. Still, the food at these restaurants is often surprisingly tasty – just don’t arrive hungry….

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