Peru has a reputation for food, and this reputation is not undeserved. The strong agricultural industry, the sheer number of potato varieties and the emphasis on lunch has created a food culture that is just as appealing as its mountains, its wildlife and its Machu Picchu. What’s even more amazing about Peruvian food is the price–you won’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy all of it!
Here are some of the top-hits of Peruvian food.
cuy or guinea pig
A lot of places have “just for tourist” item that the locals don’t actually eat, but cuy is not one of them. If you have the opportunity to meet rural Peru, you will see cages of guinea pigs outside people’s houses. These are not pets. Do not get attached (and don’t let their squeaking get under your skin). Cuy is a very local, very popular dish in Peru. I had it once. Found it gamey, but mostly mentally unsettling. It’s usually served baked or barbecued with the head still attached.
Ceviche is delicious, and cevicherias can be found just about anywhere. Of course the better ones are close to the ocean, but if the Incas can find a way to get fresh fish to Cusco, so can modern cooks. Ceviche is sliced, raw fish marinated in citrus juice.
Here is just one example of how Peruvians use their +4,000 potato varieties in interesting ways. Causa is a layered casserole made with avocados, potatoes and other ingredients like chicken salad or tuna salad. It’s serve cold.
Photo found on the Google.
Sweet. Potato. Donuts. Do I need to say any more?
aji de gallina
Called a stew, aji de gallina reminded me more of a slaw or a chicken salad. Regardless, it’s made with condensed milk, bread, cheese and aji chilis. It’s one of the spicer dishes on the list.
Photo taken from the Google
Lomo saltado is a staple at menú del dia. It’s a stir-fry of beef, tomatoes and onion served with fried potatoes and rice.
Papa rellena makes an appearance throughout the country. They are mashed potato croquettes filled with anything. I’ve had chicken, goat, shrimp. The traditional is minced beef, onions, garlic and tomatoes.
Photo taken from The Google
My mouth is watering right now. Okay, rocoto relleno are spicy capsicums stuffed with beef, veggies and spices then topped with cheese and baked in sauce. This is also popular at lunch counters, specifically the ones with pre-made dishes that you order to have warmed up.
Street meats!! Those faint at heart (and faint in stomach), let it be known, street meats are a frontier that will show you a world of community and deliciousness. Anticuchos are grilled and marinated meat-skewer. I’ve even found anticuchos as a dinner option (on the street!) with corn on the cob and potatoes on the side. Can you really beat that a $3 dinner?!
If you go on a guided hike, chances are your guide will point out several interesting fruits only known in the Amazon and Andes. Lucuma is one of them. So belly up to a juice counter and order a lucuma with milk. It’s a bubblegum, syrup tasting little gem that is very popular in Peru.
tuna or the prickly pear
In Peru, tuna is a cactus fruit not the fish. You’ll find tuna or the prickly pears all over the Sacred Valley. It’s worth trying, if not just to know what Baloo was talking about in the Jungle Book.
Specifically in Arequipa, fin yourself some happiness and some queso helado. Directly translating into “ice cheese” or “ice cream.” Still made in the traditional way it was made in the 1800s, this tart but sweet dessert breaks apart in your mouth rather than melting and is an entirely different sensation that regular ice cream.
Chicha morada is a traditional drink made of purple corn.
Photo taken from The Google.
Pisco is a type of brandy produced during the winemaking process in Peru and Chile. A Pisco Sour is made with Pisco (obviously) lime juice, simple syrup and egg white. You’ll see it everywhere in Peru.
Photo from The Google
Inca Kola is a Peruvian soft drink that is neon yellow, sweet and kind of tastes like bubblegum.
Chifa is the Chinese-Peruvian fusion. It can be found for cheap just about everywhere.