Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world; biologically, culturally and gastronomically. Peruvian cuisine is vast, exciting and distinctive, and there is something new to discover in every region. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure like no other, Peru is the place for you.
Whistle-stop tour of Peruvian cuisine
In today’s blog post we’re taking a whistle-stop tour of Peruvian cuisine. Discover Peru Through Food starting with…
Lima is often considered the jewel in Peru’s culinary crown. It is home to some of the best Peruvian restaurants run by the most innovative chefs in the world, but there’s also a fantastic street food scene and myriad cafes and dining halls to visit.
The culinary style of Lima is known as criollo; a fusion of indigenous Peruvian, Spanish and African cuisine. Fusion is the key word in Lima, with Japanese, Cantonese and European food also receiving a Peruvian twist.
You absolutely must try ceviche when in Lima – whether from a stall in the fish market or served in an elegant restaurant. Other essential dishes include causa limeña (a layered dish of mashed potatoes, vegetables and chicken or fish), anticuchos (grilled beef heart) and aji de gallina.
Cusco & The Highlands
In Cusco and the highlands of Peru, meals are deeply rooted in history and tradition. In this cooler climate, warming and hearty soups and stews such as llunca cashqui and chairo are especially popular. The most iconic dish in this region is pachamanca. Pachamanca is a mix of meat, vegetables and spices cooked in an earthen oven. The preparation and cooking of this traditional dish is a communal affair, with entire families involved in the process.
The best thing about the highlands is the sheer diversity of produce available. There are copious varieties of potato, tubers, roots, grains, beans, peppers, quinoa and maca… to name just a few. As for meat, alpaca and guinea pig (known as cuy) are staples of the Andean diet. Here, you’ll almost certainly taste something you’ve never tasted before!
The North Coast
The north coast of Peru is best known for its fresh, varied and inimitable seafood. It is made up of four regions; Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad. Each region has its own distinct dishes that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Peru.
For example, In Tumbes you can try ceviche de conchas negras, a type of ceviche made with black shellfish found only in this region. While in Lambayeque you’ll find chinguirito, a ceviche of dried guitarfish.
The food of Peru’s northern coast is also known for its spectacular sudado de pescado (steamed fish stew) and tortilla de raya (a traditional omelet made with dried ray).
Arequipa & The South Coast
Gastronomically speaking, the southern coast of Peru is best known for two things; the production of Peru’s famous grape brandy pisco, and delicious Peruvian Creole food.
In Chincha, the African influence is most prominent, particularly in dishes such as bufo chinchano (cow lungs and liver with vegetables and spices) and frejol colado a sesame seed, black bean and condensed milk dessert.
In Arequipa you can enjoy aji de lacayote and adobo arequipeno – both made from local ingredients. You’ll find these spicy stew-like dishes in one of the city’s beloved picanterias.
In the Amazon Rainforest, local ingredients reign supreme. Freshwater fish and tropical fruit are available in amazing abundance and are often served alongside more unusual and exotic offerings.
Strolling through any jungle market will be an eye-opening experience. Witness a vast array of fruits, leaf-wrapped street food (known as juanes), giant freshwater fish and roasted ants and grubs. Adventurous foodies will be thrilled by everything the Amazon has to offer. Much of the food found here is not available anywhere else in the world, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to try something new.
If you wish to try a classic Peruvian dish from the Amazon, you can’t go far wrong with tacacho con cecina. Tacacho con cecina is dried and cured pork served with mashed green plantain. It’s a simple but delicious meal that can be found both on street food stalls and in upscale restaurants.
For more in-depth information, download our free Peru Food Guide, a 122-page eBook bursting with gastronomic details, restaurant listings and expertly curated food recommendations in Peru. And to experience Peruvian cuisine for yourself, talk to an Aracari travel consultant to design your bespoke itinerary today.