Before coming to Peru, I was convinced that the food was going to be sub-par. In fact, I even packed tons of snacks just in case the country’s diet didn’t satisfy my own. After living in Peru for more than three weeks now, I can confidently say that I was wrong. Sadly, the food here is so tasty and flavorful that I will probably be taking a few extra pounds of it home with me (in other words, I need to hit the gym). Even though I could go on endlessly about all of the meals I have had, I am only going to touch on the dishes I found unique to Peru.
For starters (quite literally), the ceviche in Lima is noteworthy. Thanks to a gracious restaurant here in Lima, I was able to see how the local dish is prepared and what ingredients are combined to create its exceptional flavor. To begin, you must have good, fresh fish or shell-fish as a base. For example, my chef chose some fresh mahi mahi for the demonstration. The next steps, however, are where the magic happens. Through a mixture of lemon juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, red pepper paste, spicy peppers, fresh fish stock, and a few other ingredients, the chef creates a ceviche with an attention-grabbing bite. Alongside the ceviche, they also serve crunchy corn bits and sweet potato, a few of the local staple ingredients that surprisingly pair well with the ceviche’s strong, acidic flavors. Even though this dish is prepared in many places across the world, the fresh fish and local ingredients of Peru create a ceviche unique to country that is definitely worth a try.
Moving onto the entrée portion of this blog, I would like to talk about a popular dish found in both Cusco and Lima. This dish, known as lomo saltado, is simply a plate of beef, rice, and fries. Even though is sounds too simple to make your mouth water, it is actually packed full of savory flavor. The secret, I think, is in the mixture of teriyaki, worcestershire, and beef sauce that the meat is cooked in. This sauce also soaks into the rice and coats the fries thus lending its flavor to multiple, delicious uses. Furthermore, the beef is cooked in an extremely hot pan that is occasionally engulfed in flames leading to tender, yet well-cooked meat as a result. Overall, the idea of lomo saltado is simple, but its preparation and array of flavorful ingredients gives it an uncommon, but extremely satisfying taste that you have experience for yourself.
Now for my favorite round, DESSERT! Choosing what to talk about here is hard because every dessert I have had has equally satisfied my sweet tooth. However, I am going to discuss the crepe scene in Cusco and Lima. As a result of the French influence in South America, crepes are a popular food in Peru appearing as both sweet and savory treats. With regards to the crepe dough, it can be made with flour, wheat, and even a form of quinoa local to the area. Not only do you have several choices for what type of crepe to order for dessert, but you have a plethora of choices for what to put inside. For dessert, you can order the traditional crepes with butter and sugar, or ones with chocolate and fruit. If you are really feeling adventurous, you can order ones with white chocolate, coconut, brownie, caramel, ice cream, candies, and more. Essentially, you can’t go wrong with a delicious crepe as a dessert here in Peru.
In summary, the food here is dangerous because it is so good. Anyone who comes here should branch out and try all the popular dishes including what I discussed above. Other notable dishes I have not mentioned but are worth trying is the local delicacy cuy (guinea pig), the empanadas, and some of the local fruits (but only the ones you peel).