Peru’s cresting culinary reputation is seeping past its shores
Shh...Coastal Lima is the main attraction, so get in quick and ride the mainly (seafood) wave while hip Peruvian food is still that.
Tell me more…Peru has more than 2,000 varieties of potato and virtually all the tropical fruits and vegetables you could wish for, imagine and then eat. The classic coastal dish is ceviche, raw fish marinated in lemon juice with onions and red peppers.
So what is Peruvian food?
Peru is one of the most geographically varied countries in the world; mix in its history of immigration, and its no surprise that Peruvian food reflects this dazzling diversity. Lunch is the main meal of the day (served any time between 12-5pm). Peruvians particularly love theiraji(chili pepper) andajo(garlic) but each region boasts its own specialities. International culinary influences include Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani flavours and more.
The country's long Pacific coastline is fed by the Humboldt current, providing rich fishing grounds and a stupendous array of seafood. Its rugged Andean mountains are the perfect nurseries for grazing animals. Llamas and alpacas are lovely to look at and taste great too! On menus they nestle alongside fine pork meats (suckling pig is popular, calledlechon), beef, goat and the festival favouritecuy(guinea pig).
Vegetarians are incredibly well catered for in Peru's main cities these days. Chefs combine the flavours of the freshest fruits, herbs and spices from the verdant Amazon and valleys with rice, potatoes, eggs and more to create innovative dishes. Peppers (recoto relleno) are stuffed with a boggling array of foods: a definite must-try.
If you want to try the more day to day Peruvian cuisine, the empanadas are delicious and (my personal favourite for a quick meal) roast chicken cafes with Inka Kola are ubiquitous. The locals love it, and so will you!
The growing number of top end restaurants has meant prices have risen too; you can easily pay USD 50 for one dish in some establishments. The cheapest Menu del Día I saw last year was two soles (about 80 cents/65p) for starters, main, pudding and water. Take care in cheap places though, and only eat where it's packed with locals.
You will still see traditional pachamanca being made in many parts of Peru. Pachamanca is cooked in the ground using hot stones, and comprises meat (chicken/guinea pig/beef/lamb), potatoes, beans and spices. Delicious.