Week 6: Peruvian food and fireworks

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Sunday, July 10, 2022


Valeria Carla Viteri-Pflucker

Monday was the 4th of July! A lot of us went to the National Mall and had fantastic seats right under the Washington Monument to see the fireworks display over the reflecting pool. We came equipped with water bottles, blankets, an umbrella for shade, games to play, and I brought some crochet supplies for the long wait before sunset. The fireworks show was 17 minutes long (I think) starting at 9:09 PM, and it was a lot of fun! At home, I live in a very rural area, so it is rare for me to be able to see that large of a fireworks display.

The next day, Div, Taylor, and I were back to NIST as usual. This was an action-packed week at work where Jared and I have been quickly trying to adapt the current spectral interferometry set up to pump with infrared to study Gallium Phosphide. We made a lot of progress on this during the week but are still working on ironing out some kinks and figuring out how to properly normalize our data. It’s proving to be quite tricky, but with the set up nearly complete, I think throughout the week we can come very close to an answer. Abstracts are due after next week, so our progress this week will be very important for my final presentation. I feel very involved in this work, and Jared has been incredibly helpful at answering my infinite questions thoughtfully and excitedly. As a side note, each day around 12:30 PM, Div, Taylor, and I have lunch together outside at a picnic table. I’ve added an image of Div and Taylor last week during such an outing.

A week or two ago, I took Div and Taylor to a Peruvian restaurant where I had them try Peruvian ceviche, ají de gallina, and lomo saltado. In case I haven’t said this earlier, I’m from Peru. Later, the second intern potluck was coming around (it was scheduled for today, Sunday July 10th). For it, Div asked if I would like to try our hands at making ají de gallina ourselves for this event. I had never made it before, but its something I would definitely like to know how to make for myself. I moved at a relatively young age and my mother hasn’t made it for me in the U.S. because in our area, there aren’t accessible Latin American grocery stores to find the products. This shouldn’t be a problem in Washington, DC, so yesterday we ventured out and found the right peppers and everything. Today we spent several hours and produced our first plates of ají de gallina. To explain the dish, it’s a creamy chicken dish served over boiled potatoes with rice. The cream is roasted ají amarillo peppers from Peru blended with oil, then later mixed with cooked onions, garlic, and chopped pecans. You then add a mixture of condensed milk with bread soaked in it (that is also blended). These are cooked together with spices, and parmesan is added. At the end you mix it together with shredded boiled chicken. I think we were very successful for our first time!

Div & Taylor at lunch
Ají amarillo peppers
Final dish of ají de gallina with boiled potatoes and rice

Valeria Viteri-Pflucker