When most of us think of Peru, we think of mountains, ancient ruins and beautiful terraced valleys.
However, the truth is that in addition to all of these things, Peru also happens to be the leader in culinary delights in South America and is becoming well known-worldwide- for flavourful and delicious dishes you will not find anywhere else in South America or the world for that matter.
There are few other places on the planet that have the mix of local ingredients and the taste sensations that Peru is becoming famous for. Immigration from all parts of the globe has contributed to the mix of food in Peru and the different dishes that you will find on offer today. The most important influences are from Europe, Africa and East Asia, as well as other influences from different parts of Peru; the coast featuring seafood, the highlands with its stews and potato based dishes and the jungle with its delicious array of plant based dishes.
Most people who come to Peru travel to Machu Picchu, the famous Inca City perched on the side of a mountain. There are many agencies in the city of Cusco offering Machu Picchu day tours, so if you have the time, spend a couple of days exploring this wonder of the world. On any trip to Machu Picchu, you must try the food; traditional Peruvian dishes are on offer in most restaurants in Cusco, Lima and Machu Picchu.
For your next tour to Peru and Machu Picchu, here are ten plates you must try for a taste of Peru and for flavourful dishes you will not soon forget.
The first on our list of must tries is Ceviche; a fish based plate from the oceans and rivers of Peru, if Peru had a national dish, Ceviche would be a top contender. Ceviche is based on fish marinated in lemon juice, served with red onion, chili, sweet potatoes and corn. The juice from the Ceviche is usually drunk after the Ceviche is eaten and this is called Leche de Tigre, or tigers milk in English. This delicious dish is usually eaten before lunch, so look for it in the mornings.
The next dish on our list is the famous or the infamous Cuy ( or guinea pig) eaten mainly in the highlands. The Cuy is very important in the highlands culture, and when you enter the Cathedral in the main square, you will see a replica of the last supper featuring Cuy as the main course. Cuy is usually baked or grilled and has a wild rabbit taste. The people of Cusco usually eat Cuy on special occasions and many families in the country breed Cuy.
Moving onto the next dish; popular all over Peru is Lomo Saltado. This dish is a fusion of Peruvian and Asian styles and is a combination of marinated beef pieces with fried tomatoes and potatoes, usually served with rice. All of this is fried with soy sauce.
A mouthwatering soup to try in Machu Picchu or Cusco, but only available in the mornings is Adobe; a pork stew made with corn beer, cooked until tender and served with bread rolls. The soup needs to be piping hot and is an unusual taste but one worth experiencing, you can usually find this soup in local restaurants and it costs just a few soles.
Number five on our list is Aji de Gallina, a chili chicken dish served with potatoes, rice and a boiled egg. This tasty plate is a popular lunchtime plate and is very popular in Cusco and the highlands of Peru.
Popular on the streets of Cusco and Machu Picchu is Anticuchos, these skewers of grilled, marinated meat, beef, chicken and heart are usually served with a garlic sauce. These skewers are said to date back to the Spanish occupation when the rich took the best of the cow for themselves leaving the scraps for the locals.
You can’t make the journey to Peru and not try Pollo a la Brasa; the local choice for fast food. This delicious chicken is marinated in soy sauce, pepper, salt, garlic and cumin and barbequed to give the skin a salty and smoky flavor, the chicken is served with French fries and salad.
There are many varieties of potato in Peru, and as such, there are many potato-based dishes, one of the most popular dishes is Papa Rellena; a traditional croquette filled spicy ground beef fried with onions, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, paprika, eggs and olives with a side of mashed potatoes.
If you are lucky enough to be in Cusco during the festivals, then you have to try Chiriuchu. This dish has a long history in the Cusco, Machu Picchu region. In Inca language, Chiriuchu means cold food, which is exactly what the dish contains. The plate is enormous featuring cuy, chicken, jerky, sausage, fish eggs, cheese, corn fritters, dried corn and dried seaweed; this dish is typical in May and June celbrating the festival of Corpus Christi.
The last on our list of must tries is Rocoto Relleno, this dish is a red pepper boiled to reduce spiciness and stuffed with meat and cheese and baked in the oven. This spicy dish is for those who love hot food and is found all over Peru.
So as you can see, Peru deserves its fine food reputation, so when you visit Peru, take the time to find and try these tasty Peruvian dishes.