When imagining the best cuisines in the world, countries like Italy, France, Japan and China likely come to mind. But there is a small South American nation that is worthy of a place on your mental list: Peru.
Peru has a long multi-cultural history. Peruvian food is a mix of Inca, European, Asian and West African influences resulting in a
Traditional Peruvian staples are potatoes, of which there are over 3500 varieties in Peru, corn and Amaranthaceae like quinoa. Add to this the staples brought over by the Spanish during colonization, rice, wheat and farmed meats and you have a great starting point for a
Unlike with other cultural cuisines, much of the Peruvian food that spread across the globe did so without the “Peruvian Food” tag. We all associate sushi with Japan and pizza with Italy but how many of you associate ceviche with Peru? Peru is a land full of dishes you know and love as well as many that you really need to taste.
These are my picks of the Peruvian foods you really need to try.
Served and consumed globally, ceviche is one of those famous dishes best eaten in its native country. Like eating pasta in Italy or dumplings in China, tasting ceviche is Peru is a must for any food-loving traveller.
Believed to have originated along the coast of Peru thousands of years ago, Ceviche is a dish of raw fish “cooked” in the juices of (normally citrus) fruits. It is a light and tangy dish with as many varieties as there are regions. The best place to eat Ceviche, in Peru, is along the coast. But there are also some incredible variations of the dish, high in the mountains using
Aji de Gallina
Aji de Gallina has roots going back to the French Revolution in 1789, when many French chefs made their way to the New W
One for the starch lovers, Lomo Saltado is regularly served with both rice and potato chips (french fries). Strongly influenced by the Chinese beef stir-fry, this popular dish consists of strips of beef (sometimes alpaca), fried with aji chillies (they make a number of appearances in this list), tomatoes, onions and a mix of other spices and vegetables. At times you’ll see the chips on the side and more often than not they’ll be fried in with the meat and sauce. A true east-west combination dish.
La Causa, translated as The Cause, is a delicious Peruvian staple that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most important element is the yellow mash: a mix of yellow Peruvian potatoes, yellow aji chillies, lime and oil. Building from here you’ll find colourful terrines, casseroles and individual cakes filled with seafood, or chicken mixed with mayo, hard boiled eggs, avocado and olives.
With so many types of potatoes in Peru, it’s no wonder that they are creatively used in Peruvian food.
Anticuchos (de corazon)
Anticuchos are like beef skewers… except instead of your standard steak on the stick, you’ll more often find heart. Typically made
Pollo A La Brasa
Not your standard rotisserie roast chook. Pollo a la Brasa is marinated in a rich mix of garlic, herbs and spices before being roasted to perfection on a spit. And if the crispy skin and juicy meat weren’t enough, no Pollo a la Brasa is complete without a Peruvian black mint sauce.
One for the Vegetarians (sometimes). A unique twist on the classic beans and rice, Tacu Tacu is a dish or side dish, eaten daily across Peru. Believed to have originated with the African slaves during colonial times, the dish is now a staple of the Peruvian diet.
Adapted by the locals across Peru to include the ingredients they have on hand, its kind of a bubble and squeak but with rice, not potatoes. Often consisting of leftover rice and beans, flavoured with aji chillies and garlic, the dish is shaped and fried in oil until crispy. You’ll regularly find the dish served as a side to seafood, pork, beef with egg or fried plantain.
A Peruvian take on a stuffed pepper, this deliciously cheesy dish has its origins in Spanish cuisine. Popular in the Andean cities of Peru, where the tasty dish originated, it is hard to come by beyond Peruvian borders.
The red aji rocoto chilli, of which this dish is made, might look like a red bell pepper but it doesn’t taste like one. The spicy chillies pack quite a punch but they are well matched by the sweet and savoury filling of ground beef, raisins, herbs and spices. Topped with melted cheese and a creamy egg sauce the Rocoto Relleno is a complete dish well worth travelling to Peru to try.
You didn’t think I’d forget about desert did you?
Alfajors are popular throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and Spain, with each country having its own take on the sweet biscuit. You’ll come across them all throughout Peru. The sweet biscuits are most commonly filled with dulce de leche and coated in fine
Suspiro a la Limeña
Literally translated to “sigh of the Lima lady” you’ll be letting out a satisfied sign on the first bite of this delicious desert.
Originating in Lima during the 19th century, Suspiro a la Limeña is a mix of Spanish and Peruvian cuisine. Made of meringue and dulce de leche this sweet and light dish is a must try when visiting Lima.
Cuy al Horno
Once eaten by the Incas, these little guys are one of Peru’s original sources of protein. You may struggle to get the image of Snuggles, your childhood pet, out of your head but once you hear the crunch of that crispy skin and taste the delicious meat you’ll forget all about him.
Guinea pig or
I hope reading this has made you as hungry as writing it did. Pack those stretchy pants and book your Peruvian food tour today!
Did your favourite Peruvian food not make the list? Let me know what it is in the comment section below. Or share stories and photos of Peruvian food with us by tagging @bambaexperience for your chance to be featured.