Food Adventure in Peru: Morning Frog Juice
In the central market of Arequipa, Peru, amongst the usual assortment of produce and meat vendors, you’ll also encounter less familiar shamanistic shops selling love potions, dessicated baby llamas (used, e.g., in prosperity rituals), and other pagan articles and a stand dedicated to the drink in question: Jugo de Rana con Maca (lit: “juice of frog with maca”).
Frog juice is a traditional beverage used as an energy drink and also – due to the maca root powder – as an aphrodisiac. The list of alleged health benefits includes curing: asthma, bronchitis, physical and mental tiredness, and – wait for it – impotence. Due to this last characteristic, it is sometimes called “natural Viagra.” It has apparently become quite the rage in Lima.
How to Make Frog Juice
When you order your frog juice (10 soles or USD 3.33), the vendor plucks a little frog out of a pot with businesslike efficiency and displays it perfunctorily for the requisite photo op. Then, mercifully out of sight, he kills the frog with what sounds like a quick blow of the head on the counter. After being skinned, still out of sight, the frog goes unceremoniously into a simmering pot of white bean broth. Separately, the vendor mixes honey, chia seeds, maca root powder, and a couple of other ingredients. When the frog is cooked, he blends the frog-in-broth with the other ingredients and pours the resulting, slightly frothy, concoction into a glass beer mug.
What Frog Juice Tastes Like
Jugo de rana has a consistency between a smoothie and a pulpy juice drink, except it’s warm. I tasted no hint of frog under the sweetness of the honey and the earthy maca root. The latter gives the frog juice a slightly fine-grained after-texture and a flavor not unlike a taro root drink from a bubble tea shop. I am simultaneously (a) disappointed that I don’t taste more the frog in my frog juice and (b) relieved that I therefore do not have to suppress a vomit reaction for breakfast. As for the purported health benefits, I felt nothing out of the ordinary that day or the next.
So the next time you crave a morning pick me up and happen to be in Peru, get local, get adventurous, and find some frog juice. ¡Salud, and eat adventurous!
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, South America