Peru is quickly – and rightly – becoming a major food destination.
Physically, Peru boasts more biodiversity than any other country in the world. Culturally, Peru’s diversity is equally rich. Gradually Quechua – the Inca language – is establishing its official status beside the colonial Spanish. Dozens of other language and cultural groups thrive throughout Peru, each mixing local ingredients with a creative flare worth celebrating.
From the pacific ocean to glaciers and the smouldering heat of the Amazon basin, Peru is a veritable cornucopia of culinary abundance!
Ceviche (cebiche) may currently be the most celebrated Peruvian dish, but there is so much more.
In fact above all else, Peru’s Inca culture gave the world a global staple – the potato.
Also from the highlands has come quinoa, kiwicha and cuy – guinea pig! The tropical slopes leading into the Amazon Basin grow virtually everything. Of the many fruits available throughout the region, my very favourite is the granadilla – somewhat similar to a passion fruit. In fact it translates as such, but it is not the same.
Maracuya is also in the passionfruit family, but far more sour. Perfect however for juices! When I lived in Peru, I learned quickly from the locals to make excellent and healthy juices every morning. In Peru a blender is more important than a microwave.
Peruvians are healthy, active and proud of their food. As their cuisine becomes nationally and internationally celebrated, they may yet avoid the scourge of obesity from thousands of processed calories.
Generally it is understood that Lima – Peru’s ugly and unpleasant capital – has the best of all cuisines, yet in the highlands (where so many tourists travel), there are excellent restaurants.
My favourite in Cusco remains Uchu – pricy but always worth it. The Alpaca steak may be my favourite meal anywhere!
In Puno (by Lake Titicaca) look for trout ceviche on any menu. And for fast-food (yes, really), Bembos is fresh, reasonably healthy and miles ahead of the international chains.
An additional delicious option is Peruvian-style Chifa (Chinese food). With a substantial asian population, Chifa restaurants are common and often excellent and extremely well priced.
Of course to drink, a Pisco Sour is a must. Peruvian wine sadly is not very good and the beer is typical light lager. The principal soft-drink is the sickly-sweet, and caffeinated Inca Cola.
Whenever I return to beautiful Peru, I enjoy almost every dish and also feel good from the balanced, natural diet.