It’s eight times the charm for Peru in the culinary travel world, having been awarded the 2019 BEST destination by the World Travel Awards. The ultimate travel accolade was presented in Oman just last week, among a line-up of truly fabulous destinations, many of which are much more prominent in the gastronomy world. Well, at least for those who’ve yet to visit. If you’ve been lucky enough to have visited Peru then you’ll know what a sensational gourmand paradise this country really is.
Peru’s exceptional cuisine has been shining on centre stage for some time, especially as fusion cooking involving indigenous ingredients and cooking methods gain popularity, all over the world. The intricate and fascinating history of Peruvian cuisine is becoming well known and there aren’t many travellers who land in Lima and not know that the capital is home to outstanding Michelin-starred restaurants or that they can enjoy superlative dishes all over the country, even as they’re cruising the remotest reaches of the Peruvian Amazon.
Peru is, in one short word, absolutelybloodydelicious.
Adding a most enticing highlight to a long array of jaw-dropping historical and cultural attractions, this latest culinary accolade is yet one more reason to pack your bags and come visit Peru. Oh, and just for the record, Peru also won Best Cultural Destination for 2019 so you know you’ll be bagging a double-win with a visit.
Why Peruvian Cuisine?
The sheer variety of tastes all over Peru make this one of the most regionally diverse cuisines in all of Latin America. Combining ancient Inca traditions with influences from centuries of foreign immigration (most notably Spanish and Japanese) has created a wide range of iconic dishes: from the Asian-inspired chifa stir-fry and ceviche to the ubiquitous Spanish-inspired empanada and Inca-inspired grilled guinea pig. Peruvian cuisine is like a maze of international tastes which melded hundreds of years ago and have evolved into something utterly unique.
The Best Peruvian Dishes to Try
Now that we have your attention, it’s time to tell you about all the outstanding meals you ought to go in search for when you visit Peru! Now, we do accept that chargrilled guinea pig (cuy) may not be to everyone’s liking but five iconic local dishes just seem to be consistent crowd-pleasers.
A dish of raw fish and/or prawns marinated in spicy and tasty lemon juice and herbs, and usually served with sweet potato. A taste explosion for the taste buds!
This stir fry of beef, peppers and chips is usually drowning in a tasty cumin-based sauce, ideally soaked up by a side serve of plain rice. The kind of daily staple meat-eaters love
Perhaps the most famous South American culinary export, the empanada is, hands down, the most delicious ‘snack’ you can eat in the whole continent. We should know, we’ve tried them all!
Papa a la Huancaina
The most filling (and soul stirring) vegetarian meal in the country, this seemingly simple ‘boiled potatoes and egg’ dish normally floats in a cheese, creamy sauce that’ll make you lick the plate.
Aji de Gallina
Chicken is king in Peruvian cuisine and you’ll never find it more delectable than when cooked in a spicy and creamy sauce of bright yellow aji peppers, mixed with ground walnuts, to give it an earthy and totally Moorish taste.
The above is just a teaser of what you can expect to find in Peru. See our Guide to Peruvian Cuisine to learn more and our Peru Recipe Series to replicate aji de gallina at home (consider it research for your taste buds!)
How to Best Enjoy a Culinary Tour of Peru
Luckily, this isn’t going to be about compromising: visit Peru and you won’t have to choose between food, culture, history and nature. Yes…you can have it all!
Love to travel, explore and feast in equal measure? Here are just a few tips on how to turn your amazing tour of Peru into an AMAAAAAZING tour of Peru.
1. Take dedicated food tours
It’s exceptionally easy to feast in Peru without specifically planning on a feasting tour, but you certainly can. Our Taste of Peru itinerary, for example, places a greater emphasis on daily OH.MY.GOD. foodie splurges whilst still offering the best travel experiences in the country and, in particular, showcasing the regional diversity of Peruvian cuisine, mainly on the coastal, Andean and Amazonian regions. A special interest tour will ensure your tour guides be informed that food, glorious food is just as important as everything else!
2. Take your time in Lima
The Peruvian capital has certainly cleaned up its act in the last decade, easily becoming one of the hottest and most rewarding major cities in Latin America. A lot of this has to do with its amazing foodie options, which nowadays include not only haute-cuisine restaurants rated among the best in the world but also a wide range of food tours and cooking classes. Due to the sheer concentration of interest and population, Lima can easily be regarded as the best food city in the whole country, so take a few days when you arrive to unwind from your journey and indulge your taste buds.
3. Ask your guide (and everyone else) for recommendations
‘What’s the best local dishes we should try here?” should be your daily mantra and if you’re not asking this question to everyone you come across when travelling in South America, you’re totally missing out! No matter where you are in Peru, trust your local guide to be in the culinary know and, if not, to find out. Some of the best meals we’ve ever had in Peru, in the most innocuous-looking places, have been thanks to local guides, taxi drivers and hotel concierges. Peruvians take their food very seriously and take a lot of pride in imparting ‘insider’ knowledge so take advantage of this lovely aspect of local culture.
This, dear traveller, is how you get to feast your way through South American Food.
At Chimu Adventures, we plan group and private tours through Peru and all over South America. Food always plays a huge role in our daily itineraries because the continent is just that delicious and we find travellers are always so curious about all the glorious treats to be found here, alongside the world-class archaeological and wilderness highlights. Because who isn’t up for capping off every travel day with a jaw-dropping meal?!
Want to come feast with us? Contact us here to know more
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”