Peruvian Cuisine Adventures: From Farmer’s Markets to Gourmet Restaurants
I recently had the opportunity to go to Peru on a culinary adventure! My Peruvian trip was full of local cooking cuisines, fancy Michelin star restaurants, and a cooking class to tie it all together. Let me take you on a taste of my food journey…
We started our grand trip in Peru by restaurant hopping to all the best cuisines in Lima! Many of you may not know that Lima is an international city full of gastronomy at its finest! I was blown away by how exquisite and delicious the restaurants were. Not only is the food outstanding, the prices are mind-boggling and very affordable. For example, you go to a 5-star restaurant in Lima including cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and dessert and you average about $50 per person! In San Francisco, I would spend $150 on a meal like that. The integrity and taste of the food is stellar. We ate at classic Peruvian restaurants such as Astrid Y Gaston, Las Brujas De Cachiche, Amaz, and Panchita. We even tried Chinese food in Peru (which was super-tasty and full of succulent vegetables).
Anyone visiting Peru MUSH try ceviche (or written Cebiche in Peru). My favorite ceviche was at Las Brujas De Cachiche from the photo above. It’s raw fish marinated in lime juice and spices. The lime juice cooks the fish. This dish is so fresh, healthy, and light. The natural flavors of the high quality fish truly shine. This ceviche was octopus, shrimp, and a white local fish.
Another one of my favorite activities in Peru was drinking Pisco Sours. Pisco originated in Lima and is a classic Peruvian drink. Pisco comes from grape brandy and is similar to a vodka-type drink. I like to think of Pisco as a symbolic drink of Peru.
I had this Pisco Sour with their classic popular snack, “Cancha,” or Peruvian corn nuts made from a special variety of corn called “maiz chulpe.” This snack originated from the Andes and I ate it while drinking my Pisco sour in Cusco, a town near Machu Picchu in the Andes.
My favorite meal in all of Peru, hands down, came from the house of a dear friend, Manuel Villacorta. We stayed with his family and they were so generous. Norma, the chef of the house, made us the classic Peruvian dishes:
Papas a la Huancaina (potatoes with a spicy, creamy sauce) and
Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken).
Both dishes were served at lunch which is the main meal of the day. They were presented in a restaurant quality elegance and the flavors were better than some of the restaurants we ate at! Thank you so much, Norma, for your out-of-this-world enchanting meal.
My favorite local food experience was going to the Farmer’s Market in Lima and Cusco. Most Peruvians buy their food in the local markets. People sell everything in their outdoor stands from chickens to seafood to grains to an overwhelming abundance of exotic fruits I’ve never even seen before and delectable vegetables.
The chicken photo shows how Peruvians sell a half chicken which has the eggs and all intact. People use all parts of the chicken in various menus. This is a true example of sustainability and non-wastefulness. I love it.
The produce stands had so many beautiful fruits and vegetables. I was amazed how many fruits I didn’t even know the names of! I asked so many questions learning about all the various produce such as how to eat it and how to cook it. I had a feast when I got home!
Potatoes are a staple food in Peru and as you can see, many people sell a variety of potatoes from yellow to white to purple (yes! Purple potatoes!) and more.
OK: I did not eat this or buy it, but I thought the different meats just waiting for someone to buy were so interesting! I wasn’t gutsy enough to try a snout. Do you know what animal it comes from???
I highly recommend being adventurous when you have the opportunity to travel by engaging with locals, learning their cuisines, and possibly partaking in their lifestyle by enjoying a meal with them or grocery shopping.
I had an amazing food adventure in Peru and cannot wait to go back to experience more Peruvian food-love!
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN
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