If the impressive natural landscapes or the historical locations in Peru were not reason enough to book a trip, the Peruvian food will ensure that you check this country off your list. This South American country is considered to be one of the best culinary destinations in the world since the varying landscapes offer visitors the unique opportunity of trying a wide range of food types.
From the coastal city of Lima to the mountainous region near Cusco, visitors to Peru can indulge in everything from seafood to alpaca. Not only is the food amazing, but the culture around each dish will be a history lesson at every meal. There are different foods to try in Peru. Let’s have a look at our list of 8 must-try foods in Peru.
Cuy (Guinea Pig)
While many countries around the world consider this small animal a cute house pet, the Peruvians see it as a delicacy. These small, rodent-like animals are extremely beneficial to the Andean people as they do not take up much space when being raised and they reproduce very quickly. They are an excellent source of protein for areas where the climate and landscape do not support animal farming such as cattle. The cuy is breaded and baked before being traditionally served whole on a platter of various vegetables and potatoes and is eaten similar to eating a chicken wing.
Where to Try It: This dish is most commonly found in the mountainous regions, especially in and around Cusco.
Also Read : 8 Best Hikes to take in Peru (with info)
Ceviche has steadily become the national dish of Peru. This appetizer consists of citrus-marinated raw fish served over an assortment of vegetables. It can be served by itself, with chips, or even as a side to another dish. There are a thousand variations of ceviche, so order it as many times as desired to be able to try the different infusion of flavors!
Where to Try It: There are many different types of ceviche. All of them use different vegetables, sauce, and fish. While one can find it all over the country, the best place to try ceviche is in the seaside cities, especially the Miraflores neighborhood in Lima. With it being so close to the water, the ceviche is very fresh which gives it a more powerful flavor.
Brought to Peru by Chinese immigrants, Lomo Saltado is one of the most popular dishes in all of Peru for both tourists and locals. This dish is a beef stir-fry with a Peruvian flair. Beef strips are served over a bed of rice and veggies after being properly flavored with bold spices.
Where to Try It: Because of its popularity, Lomo Saltado can be found on pretty much any menu throughout the country.
The smaller cousin to the llama, alpacas are highly valued in Peru. They have several uses, such as sheering their wool for clothing, carrying packs long distances, and providing a source of protein. Their meat is very similar to that of ground beef, except it is juicier, much for tender, and boasts a delicious flavor. The locals have incorporated alpaca into many of their dishes like a pizza topping, like a burger patty, and a steak.
Where to Try It: Similar to cuy, alpaca is mainly utilized in the mountainous regions. Whether it is eaten in a burger, on pizza, or by itself, tourists will typically have a better experience eating alpaca in dishes in the mountain cities, such as Cusco.
The Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru, though Argentina will argue that it is their creation. Believed to have been invented in Lima in the 1920’s, this frothy cocktail is a blend of pisco liquor, lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and bitters. Unlike its name, the drink is fairly sweet and is a refreshing concoction after walking around Peru all day!
Where to Try It: Since it is the national cocktail, the Pisco Sour can pretty much be found in any restaurant or bar that serves alcohol.
Caldo de Gallina
Caldo de Gallina is one of the oldest traditional foods in Peru dating back around 8,000 years. It is a very rich take on the classic chicken noodle soup, where broth and vegetables are simmered with chicken meat then poured over a collection of noodles. What sets it apart from chicken noodle soup is the fact that the chicken legs are left whole inside of the soup, including the foot!
Where to Try It: Caldo de Gallina is typically a household meal and is more difficult to find at restaurants. However, it is often served at food carts throughout Peru. An excellent place to enjoy a steaming hot bowl is at the San Pedro Market in Cusco where it is prepared by the locals.
While many people may shy away from street food, these beef kabobs are a must-try while in Peru. They consist of different cuts of tender meat that placed on a skewer, and can sometimes be found mixed in with vegetables as well. Follow your nose to find these excellent snacks to grab while on the go in order to tide you over between meals!
Where to Try It: Since it is a Peruvian street food, this is going to most likely be found at different local markets and food stalls.
Aji de Gallina
Translated to “spicy chicken”, this Peruvian chicken stew is the ultimate comfort food. It is comprised of chicken simmered with yellow chilis in a sauce alongside a bunch of different peppers and spices. It is usually served over a bed of rice.
Where to Try It: This dish will be available at many of the restaurants all throughout Peru. While each version may be slightly different, the general ingredients remain the same.
Featured Image : PERUVIAN CEVICHE SEBICHE. Peruvian seafood and fish sebiche with maize © Larisa Blinova