These seemingly simple dishes will blow your mind!
Peru´s coastal desert, mountains, and tropical jungle provide a wide range of fruit, vegetables and different types of meat that help the country stand up gloriously as a food paradise. On top of having fantastic ingredients available, cultural richness enhances the national gastronomy: the country guards the heritage of the indigenous peoples, the influence of immigrants from China and Japan and the European traditions brought to the continent by the Conquistadors.
Some of the finest and illustrative dishes of the Peruvian cuisine, that you cannot miss if you’re visiting this beautiful country, are:
- Ceviche. It is a non-negotiable dish and it is the king of seafood. It is a dish that has been prepared for centuries. Nowadays it has been transformed into the famous white-raw fish marinated in lemon juice and is served with onions, garlic, cilantro, chilies, sweet potato, lettuce, and a type of corn known as choclo. There are lots of variations in its preparation and ingredients, which is the core of this spectacular dish. You can enjoy it as an appetizer or as a main course.
- Chifa. It is the gastronomical result of combining the Peruvian and Chinese cultures, rather than a particular dish. Chifa restaurants are abundant all over the country. Lima has its own Chinatown, which is a nice spot to rejoice with chifa food. There is no need to deprive yourself by choosing between dishes. There are several restaurants where you can try a little bit of everything. The main ingredients of Chifa dishes are rice, noodles, chicken, and pork. They are all seasoned with bittersweet flavors. Do not forget to get some wontons, Chifa´s distinguished appetizer.
- Pollo a la brasa. Grilled chicken does not sound exotic enough to deserve a place in a top-5 list. However, Peruvians have managed to take this dish to another level. They have developed a unique recipe in which many flavors are poured in the chicken, allowing it to remain as juicy as possible. People eat it alongside all kind of “guarniciones", or side dishes, such as rice, potatoes, corn, or salad. There are restaurants dedicated exclusively to produce this jewel of the Peruvian gastronomy, so you’ll be in good hands.
- Anticuchos. Served on a skewer you'll find slices of barbecued beef, usually beef's heart, accompanied by potatoes. The meat is marinated with vinegar, chili, and spices and then grilled. Its origins go back to colonial times. Anticuchos are a great example of a toothsome dish that can be acquired in an ordinary corner from a street vendor at a very low price.
- Papa a la Huancaína. Once again, there seems to be an infiltrated guest in the list. According to a research center by the name of International Potato Center, there are more than 4000 varieties of edible potatoes, most of which are found in the South American Andes. Our advice is that you try as many as you can. Amidst them, the most famous are the yellow potatoes used in the papa a la huancaína, so well-known for the spectacular spicy and creamy sauce that gives it an unmatched tang.
Honestly, it is very hard to narrow it down to a top 5 because all Peruvian food is amazing. If you are not in Peru for a lengthy visit, a fantastic option is to go to a buffet. Also, there is no need to go for the expensive, top-class restaurants. People in Peru love to eat deliciously on a regular basis, so you won’t have any problem if you pass by a local diner and have lunch with everyone else.
Latin American Post | David Arias
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto