If you ask anyone about Peru, the first thing that comes to mind is Machu Picchu. The second? The food. Peru is becoming world-renown for its local dishes. Here are a few to tempt your palate:
1. Eat ceviche fresh off the boat
Ceviche (“say-vi-chay”) is one of the most popular dishes in Peru. It is a raw seafood dish that cured in lime juice. It’s served with sweet potato, slivered red onions, choclo (corn), and canchita (Inca corn). There are many restaurants that offer ceviche, go to the local market to find the best! You may have some doubts eating at a local market, but it’s truly the most authentic way to have this Peruvian dish.
2. Pollo a la Brasa
Pollo a la Brasa (“poyo a la brassa”), or Peruvian roast chicken, is something you must try when you visit Peru. It is typically served with french fries and a salad. For an additional Peruvian flair? Ask to have it “a lo pobre,” which means you will have it served with fried plantains and an egg. Sounds like a weird combination: roast chicken, french fries, salad, fried plantains and an egg, but trust me! It works!
3. Causa (“cow-sa”)
Causa is seasoned potato dish, typically stuffed with tuna and avocado. There are different varieties; however, it is typically served as a cold appetizer.
4. Lomo Saltado
One of the cool things about Peruvian food is that it is a combination of other cultures. Lomo saltado is one of those dishes, fushioning Peruvian with Chinese. Lomo saltado can be best described as a beef stir fry with onions, tomatoes, french fries and is served with rice.
Going back to my previous point, Chifa is another example of dishes influenced by other cultures. To put it simply, Chifa is Cantonese-inspired food using Peruvian ingredients. Chifa originated after Chinese immigrants settled in Peru.
Some Peruvian dishes might seem a bit unusual. Take cuy, for example. Cuy is a traditional dish of fried guinea pig. Before you get entirely grossed out, keep in mind that cuy was the main source of meat for the people before cattle was introduced to the country. I personally have not eaten it (I still have the stigma of a little fat, furry-faced pet in my head), but my friends tell me it tastes a bit like chicken. This dish is very popular in Cuzco, and other Andean regions.
7. Aji de Gallina
Aji de gallina is slightly spicy and bright yellow from the famous aji amarillo peppers. The rich cream sauce is made with ground walnuts and shredded chicken. This dish is traditionally served over rice, with boiled yellow potatoes and black olives.
8. Papa a la huancaina
Papa a la huacaina is boiled potatoes that are covered in a spicy, cheesy sauce.
9. Sip a pisco sour
Pisco is a brandy that is made from grapes in Peru. While the Chileans and Peruvains STILL debate who “invented” this popular drink, Peruvians pride themselves on having the best. Pisco can be served as a shot, or as a pisco sour.
10. Drink to the “Gods,” Chicha Morado
Chicha morado is a traditional drink made with Peruvian purple corn (which gives the drink its purple color), cinnamon, apple and pineapple. It’s sweet, but not too sweet.
11. Inca Cola
Have a fix for something bubbly? (Not champagne) Inca Cola is a Peruvian soda that has unique flavor, to which some can only describe as ‘bubblegum.’
12 Savor a picarone (Peruvian donut)
If you have a sweet tooth (like me), you’ll love picarones. Picarones are Peruvian donuts made with sweet potato and a local squash. They are then glazed with a sweet, sticky sauce (similar to syrup). Many street vendors sell this on this street
13. Yukitas, or Yucca fries
Like French fries? Try yucca fries! Yucca is a hearty root vegetable that is fried to perfection. Have this with a side of huancaina sauce (Peruvain chili cheese sauce).
14. Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con pollo is a chicken dish that is served with rice.
15. Choco con Queso
Craving something salty? Choclo con Queso (corn with cheese) is a dish that might satisfy your appetite. Local street vendors sell the corn and cheese appetizer for 1 sol, or about $0.50.