When one visits a country, there are always certain local food specialties one needs to try, even if some of these do not seem very appealing. Tourists might travel to Peru mainly to contemplate the remnants of its rich history and stunning nature, but they are in for a pleasant culinary surprise. Peruvian cuisine is known for its variety and exquisite taste. Many aspects of Peruvian food are still quite unknown to western travelers. Therefore, to fully immerse in Peruvian culture, visitors should at least try these five basics of Peruvian cuisine.
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If one type of food deserves the title as Peru’s national dish, it is without a doubt ceviche. Ceviche is composed of pieces of raw fish marinated in lime juice, sliced onion, hot chili’s, salt and pepper. Peruvian wisdom claims that the citric acid in the lime juice ‘cooks’ the fish, however, the acid does not kill all bacteria and parasites and therefore ceviche needs to be made with the freshest fish possible. Best places in Peru to eat ceviche then are coastal towns, including Lima.
In the Andean highlands, visitors will find cuy on every menu. The cuy has a long history in Peru and was already eaten by the Incas. Animal-loving travelers should not order this because they will find baked guinea pig on their plates. The most shocking part for travelers is that the guinea pig is served as a whole and the animal is still recognizable. If one overcomes the first feeling of disgust, one can experience that the meat actually tastes quite similar to rabbit.
Choclo (con queso)
Corn is one of the most widely used ingredients of Peruvian cuisine. In Peru, one can find corn in every color under the sun. Farmers grow more than 55 varieties of corn, more than anywhere else in the world. A popular snack with Peruvians is the choclo, with kernels much larger than most travelers are used to, eaten with cheese.
Instead of pretzels or hotdogs, Peruvian street vendors sell anticucho, Peru’s favourite barbecue meat. Anticucho is meat on a stick marinated in vinegar and spices such as cumin, hot peppers and garlic. They are typically made of beef heart. It is recommended not to think too much about the origins and just try it out. Most travelers find it very tasty.
Llamas for Peruvians are like cows for westerners. Although they are a symbol of the Andean region in Peru, they have been eaten ever since the Inca Empire ruled this area. There are many different Peruvian dishes that use llama meat: more traditional dishes as charque or especially for tourists, an American style llama burger or on top of a pizza. Its taste is said to be like a cross of beef and lamb.
It’s not a matter of where, but when. Time is precious and my time spent living and experience the cultures of this world is what I lust for. This is why I created this website, to share true, genuine experiences and not just typical touristy info. Travel, the love of coffee, and food!