When most travellers think of Peruvian cuisine a cute furry little creature will come to mind, but there is much more to this country’s food than the guinea pig. There is a food revolution currently happening in Peru, with the younger generation reclaiming pride in their distinctive cuisine and eager to show it off to the world. With the local community and sustainable tourism benefits that come as a result of the rise in world-wide popularity of Peruvian cuisine, it won’t be long before you’ll see Peru’s culinary delights in your town soon.
From markets and street carts to the highlands and the sea, here are some dishes you definitely won’t want to miss eating when you next travel to Peru.
Pan con Chicharrón
This is the ultimate breakfast of champions. You could call pan con chicharrón Peru’s national sandwich – take a couple of slices of pan-fried sweet potato, some succulent chunks of pork that have been simmered in water then fried for a crispy finish, and salsa criolla, or onion relish, and put this all in a crunchy round roll for a sandwich unlike any you’ve ever had, especially at breakfast.
Peru has thousands of varieties of potatoes and one of the most popular is the Peruvian yellow potato used to make causa. Meaning ‘sustenance for life’ from the Quechua word ‘kausay’, legend has it that women prepared this dish for men in the Pacific War of 1879 ‘for the cause’. The yellow potato is mashed together with yellow ‘aji’ chili and lime juice and due to the high starch content the potato combines easily to form little towers that can be layered with a variety of things, but avocado is a staple.
Nothing defines the Lima cuisine better than ceviche. The Pacific Ocean provides bountiful fish to Peru but only the best and freshest can be used for ceviche. Cubes of white fish are marinated in lime juice and the acid actually cooks the fish very slightly. Top it with fresh chili and coriander and accompany with sweet potato and white corn. The juice produced from ceviche is known as tiger’s milk and apparently works wonders on a hangover!
When Peruvians have a big night out their late night snack of choice is anticuchos. Forget about burgers, a pizza slice or a souva, the smoke rising from grilled, marinated, skewered beef heart can be seen all over town as crowds hover around street carts eating well into the night.
The great thing about eating the local food when visiting Peru is that not only do you have the opportunity to try something new and different, but you also become a responsible traveller. When you eat in local restaurants or buy food at from the local street vendor, you’re not only supporting the chef and their family, you’re supporting those who grow the food as well as those who the chefs employ. If being a responsible traveller and enjoying great food while you travel sounds appealing, perhaps you should go on a Peru food tour.