Sunday, November 17, 2013

Iglesia de la Campania (Church of the Company ) and dinner at Zhengs, Arequipa

Located just off the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas, this Jesuit church is one of the oldest in Arequipa. First designed in 1573 by Gaspar Baez, it was subsequently destroyed by an earthquake in 1584. The construction of the existing Church began in 1590 and under the direction of Brother Felipe was finished building in 1698. The cloisters were added to the building in the 18th century. As in other buildings of Arequipa, the material for its construction came from the quarries of the nearby volcanoes. The very soft volcanic rock makes it a very easy to carve in surface decorations. As a result the ornamental carvings cover the fa├žade especially the entrance forming a large tapestry in stone. Termed ‘Mestizo Baroque” the ornate patterns in the stonework of this church are outstanding. The interior of the church is as ornate as the outside and extremely opulent. The main alter is carved in an intricate decorative motif pattern popular during the late Spanish baroque period and completely covered in gold leaf. In the center is a beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary and child by Italian artist Bernardo Bitti who came to live in Peru in 1575. This painting is only one of 66 Cusco school paintings including some by Diego de la Puente. To the left of the main altar in the sacristy is the Chapel of St. Ignatius, with a cupola covered in murals of tropical flowers, fruits and birds mingled with warriors and angels. The rest of the building is also covered by the same richly decorated carvings including the exterior and the cloisters. Arequipa has earned the right to be proud of the architecture. Having seen signs for “chifa” restaurants (Chinese) around town, we are interested in trying Peruvian style. Another restaurant in the suburbs, Zheng Chinese restaurant have their billboard signs all over town, just look up. Since all of the other Chinese restaurants we have seen are small local ones, we wanted to try something more upscale. Located at Parque Lambamani it is quite a long taxi ride. Not knowing what to expect, the Parque is actually a large shopping mall, one of the biggest we have seen in Peru and at first we were disappointed. It seemed as though Zheng’s was situated in the center of a food court next to Chilis and we could see a McDonalds and some other fast food type places. However, they also had inside seating and it was very nice. Traditionally but tastefully decorated with Chinese statues and prints, we were seated in a corner so we could also people watch. The menu was typical of Chinese and we were able to decipher most of it. We ordered drinks and a Shumai appetizer and settled in to peruse the rest of the menu. We could not decide. We checked other tables as dishes were brought out and when our waitress returned, asked for advice. We settled on their special fried rice, a sweet and spicy pork dish and a whole fish with a spicy sauce. It took a little while which made us think that everything is cooked to order and once it arrived, it was truly excellent. The fried rice was full of pork, chicken and shrimp. The pork was crunchy and the sauce was laden with mango, tomatoes and onions with just the right amount of ginger. Likewise the fish. A whole white fish covered in soy, ginger sauce and baked with green onions as garnishment. The food was delicious. Since this is also so far from the touristy areas, we were the only foreigners and the place was packed. Chinese food, one of my favorite cuisines

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