Overall I’m not a foodie. But I do enjoy the local cuisine. It is getting more tricky when you are somewhere where you really don’t know what to eat and most of the food description is in foreign languages. I had the exact same issue in Peru. I didn’t do any research, so eventually, I didn’t know what to eat in Peru. Later on, the research I did wasn’t really good enough, mainly because I remembered a Peruvian dishes names, but not what is it and I ended up eating raw fish salad. That might sound delicious for some people, but I’m not one of them. So here is my little guide through what to eat in Peru.
What to eat in Peru
Here is something little about the Peruvian kitchen. South America is home to vegetables like corn, beans, and potatoes. So there is no wonder, that they are using a lot of these foodstuffs in their dishes. There is also a lot of rice and in many ways, the Peruvian cuisine might remember anything that you know from western cuisine. I ate a lot of fries there, but not necessarily because I wanted to have fries, but mainly because potatoes are there very common, so it is something normal there. So if you see fries and other more normal things like that. Don’t get scared, it is not cheating. It is something that is just common in Peru.
This would be the food I really wanted to try but ended up deciding that I don’t want to eat it ever again. Ceviche is salat out of raw fish, canned onion, marinade, and spicy chilly. Usually, you would have on side roasted corn and bread.
This is actually the national dish of Peru. It is widely seen around South America with slightly different features like shrimp or octopus. But just simple like this is the original Peruvian way of eating it. Even though it is a national dish, it is probably best if you don’t order it everywhere you go. Basically, to have a good experience out of Ceviche it is necessary to stay relatively close to the sea coast, so you are sure that the fish is still fresh. Basically anywhere around Lima, Paracas or even Huacachina it is alright, but I wouldn’t dare to eat Ceviche in Cuzco.
This was my absolutely most favorite dish I ate in Peru. I loved it so much I even searched for the recipe so I can do it myself. Lomo saltado is a stir fry that you would eat with a portion of rice and fries. The strange thing here is that the meat in the dish differs from restaurant to restaurant. You can have it with chicken, beef, lamb or even meat from alpaca. Although chicken is generally not so popular with this dish, beef is the version that you can find everywhere. The alpaca is also somewhat common, but I have a feeling that it is mainly for crazed tourists who want to be able to say that they actually eat alpaca.
But what is it? Juicy meat is marinated in Chinese soy sauce. After adding the vinegar and vegetables like pepper bells and tomatoes, the only thing that is missing is fries. And then done. Yum!
Aji de Gallina
Here is a typical chicken dish. Pieces of chicken are soaked in a creamy sauce with grounded walnuts, cheese, and aji Amarillo. It is slightly spicy, but due to cream, it is still very mild. It is usually served with potatoes or rice. From this dish, you can actually see how much Peruvians like cheese and creamy things, but at the same time even spices. This is a combination of all of it.
This is definitely not for me and I didn’t even dare to try it. Cuy means guinea pig in Spanish. Or at least in Peruvian dialect. The guinea pig is skinned and roasted on a fire. Because they are really small animals, you will get basically the whole body on the plate. It is served also with fries and for most of the time, you can actually choose which marinade you want to have. People are saying that it is delicious, but I had pet guinea pigs every since I was a kid, so I skipped this one. Also, this dish is mainly in the mountains, so also around Cuzco region, because that is where guinea pigs are originally from.
What to eat in Peru for vegetarians
If you are searching for something slightly unhealthy, try Patacones. This dish is actually a twice-fried slice of green plantain. It is salty, crispy and generally, you just cannot go wrong with that. It is not only yummy for vegetarians, but I’m also pretty sure that even meat-eaters will love this dish.
Tortilla de Verduras
Simple omelet. But a good one. Very often mixed with a different kind of vegetables like pepper bells and tomatoes. It is something that they have really everywhere. And for most of the time, even if you don’t find it on the menu, any chef should be able to make it, since it is really easy food.
What to eat and drink! in Peru
Now when I covered the main meals in Peru, let’s have a quick look at what Peru is well known when it comes to drinking.
This is something that you will probably hear a log before you step on Peruvian soil. Coca is well known all over Peru and it’s tea actually helps to deal with altitude sickness. I usually drink it with a lot of sugar, since the taste isn’t the loveliest thing around. There is a downfall for that drink. Coca tea and basically anything made out of it still has a little bit of cocaine in it. It is not dangerous in any way. But if you need to pass drug test anytime around your trip to Peru, don’t do it, it would be hard to explain.
Peru is well known for its coffee. You can even buy a pack from Peru in Starbucks. So definitely don’t forget to try local espresso here. Locals really don’t have any special ritual around it, so there is no need to spend money on something extra. But in every nicer restaurant, they should have local beans.
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