More than two decades have passed since I first encountered comida Peruana, courtesy of my wife's Peruvian relatives. Their cuisine was an examination of contrasts: warm and chilly, acidic and stodgy, substantial and delicate. This is due to the fact that Peruvian cuisine is dominated by robust flavors and seasonings, with some dishes being delicate and refreshing while others are robust and substantial. The citrus and chile assault of ceviche was subdued with each drink of pisco sour; the fish was so fresh that it almost crunched between my teeth.
Most of us associate Peru with its towering mountain vistas and ancient monuments. While contemplating these matters, one might hear a distant panpiper melody resonating across the Andes. Furthermore, if one is prepared to discuss the cuisine, the discourse typically commences with the nation's extraordinary assortment of potatoes.
However, from a culinary standpoint, Peru is the Hope Diamond of Latin America, as it is the birthplace of unique dishes and flavors. Although the fact that there are more Peruvian restaurants outside of Peru than ever before is not exactly a secret, we do not give it sufficient credit. Limited in number of locations globally provide an assortment of native ingredients, much less a medley of flavors and methods originating from Africa, Europe, and East Asia. In lieu of perpetuating cultural segregation, these foreign influences have harmoniously assimilated into traditional Peruvian cuisine, resulting in a distinctive amalgamation.
A quintessential Peruvian dish, ceviche is a raw seafood salad marinated in lime juice and spices. Commonly prepared with white fish, scallops, shrimp, or octopus, it can be enjoyed with a side of white corn, sweet potatoes, and plantains
A favorite Peruvian comfort food, lomo saltado is a dish of stir-fried beef, onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, and french fries that is traditionally served with white rice.
This popular dish from Arequipa consists of a spicy red pepper that is stuffed with ground beef, peppers, olives, tomatoes, and onion, then topped with cheese and baked until golden.
A traditional Peruvian dish of shredded chicken in a creamy sauce with aji peppers, it is often served with white rice and boiled potatoes.
Typically sold as street food, these skewers of beef hearts are marinated in a blend of vinegar, garlic, cumin, and peppers, then grilled over hot coals.
A popular dish in Lima, causa rellena is a layered mashed potato dish that is filled with spicy tuna, chicken, or vegetables.
A popular appetizer, this potato dish consists of boiled potatoes served in a creamy, spicy sauce with hard-boiled eggs, olives, and lettuce.
Another classic street food, chicharron is deep-fried pork belly served with a piece of sweet potato or cassava and a salad.
This Peruvian-style meringue dessert is made with milk and condensed milk, then topped with purple corn syrup and grated cheese.
Consult a travel designer for tips on planning a luxury Peru tour, and don't forget to factor in some time spent sampling the region's cuisine.