Peruvian Food Guide

The Peruvian Food Guide

Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied and best in the world. It's a reflection of its three main geographical zones, the coast, the Andean highlands and the jungle, and an incorporation of influences from different times and immigrant cultures. While the Peruvian cuisine only is recognized internationally in the last few years, food and its preparation is one important part of the Peruvian culture and a very personal way to express the Peruvian identity.

As it is impossible for most visitors to enjoy all culinary treasures in the special region, Lima, the gastronomic capital of Latin America is a great place to discover the large variety and facets of the Peruvian cuisine in the numerous restaurants.

Today the Peruvian cuisine combines Pre-Inca and Inca staples and food with the Spanish, Basque, African, Asian and French, Italian and British cuisine which immigrants brought with them; a unique fusion of the culture, traditions and flavors of four continents in which all parts coexist or melt in harmony and even enrich another. Next to foreign influences and ethnic diversity the Peruvian cuisine is also characterized by Peru's unique climates and landscapes. Each region, each town has its own local cuisine and culinary treasures, depending on geography and climate that provide different ingredients native to each area.

Dishes

Peruvian Starter & Appetizer

Peruvian Starter & Appetizer

A starter is a good way to introduce you to a great Peruvian meal. Unheard of in Peru until the 17th century most Peruvian starters today often replace a full meal or are also eaten as a small lunch or snack. Below find some appetizers characteristic for the art of cooking in Lima and on the central coast of Peru.

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Peruvian Sandwiches

A sandwich can be found around the world – but a sanguche (or sanguich, sanduche, sanduich) is typical Peruvian. No doubt, sanguches are an everyday, but loved part of the Peruvian gastronomy. Peruvians have a sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner, actually any time. A Peruvian sandwich comes in countless shapes and flavors, seems to be deceptively simple, but always tastes of Peru.

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Peruvian Sandwiches
 
Typical Peruvian Soups

Typical Peruvian Soups

It is assumed that there are around 2000 different soups in Peru. This variety reflects the rich biodiversity of Peru with its three main geographical zones (the coast, the Andean highland and the jungle) and the fusion of influences from different times and immigrant cultures. As in the whole Peruvian cuisine each region has its own native or adapted ingredients using it for distinct soups.

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Peruvian Main Courses

Peruvian main courses are enormously varied in flavors and colors reflecting the native heritage, the three main geographical areas and of course the merging of traditional with foreign cooking styles from immigrants. Peru is distinct in its flora and fauna, each local cuisine adapts to the natural resources available and present foreign influences.

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Peruvian Main Courses
 
Peruvian Salsas & Sauces

Peruvian Salsas & Sauces

Salsas, sauces or dips are an essential part of the Peruvian cuisine and a must on every table. A Peruvian menu without at least three or four different salsas is incomplete. Peruvians love salsas and use them literally on any food. Peruvian sauces intensify or vary the unique flavors of local dishes. Nearly all salsas contain typical Peruvian ingredients like aji (chili pepper), Peruvian lime juice and local herbs.

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Typical Peruvian Desserts

Peruvians love their "dulces". Relatively unknown in pre-Hispanic times Peruvian desserts are heavily influenced by its Spanish and other foreign equivalents. In Colonial times expensive and unavailable ingredients used in the Spanish cuisine were replaced by typical Peruvian ones; later foreign cooking techniques were used creating local sweets.

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Typical Peruvian Desserts
 
Typical Peruvian Snacks

Typical Peruvian Snacks

In general Peruvians love to snack! You can buy small plastic bags filled with all sorts of goodies from streets vendors around every corner, a habit many Peruvians can't break with when wandering around town, waiting for or traveling in the bus or to keep their children quiet. On markets, in bodegas and supermarkets you find a great variety of snacks. So the choice might be difficult.

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Drinks & Beverages

Peruvian Drinks & Beverages

When talking about Peruvian drinks, the first that comes to mind is the Pisco, Peru's National Drink; Pisco Sour is a typical cocktail to welcome guests or start a Peruvian meal. But there are many other options: Peru produces some very good mostly red wines and delicious beers. And for all non-alcoholics try Chicha Morada or Peruvian Limonada and be prepared for Peru's very sweet soft drinks.

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Peruvian Drinks & Beverages
 

Ingredients

Typical Peruvian Fruits

Typical Peruvian Fruits

Thanks to Peru's three main climate zones, coast, highlands and jungle, a great variety of fruits can be found. Some are native to Peru, exotic or rarely known abroad others can be seen in every (super) market around the world. You can buy bananas, apples, pears, grapes, passion fruits and papayas on the Peruvian markets, but have a look for some special and unique fruits coming originally from Peru.

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Peruvian Vegetables

Peru is known around the world for its potato and corn varieties. But did you know that for example the avocado and tomato have their origin in Peru as well? And the country is home to numerous other internationally nearly unknown vegetables. Most of them have been cultivated and consumed since ancient times being an important part of the traditional Peruvian cuisine.

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Peruvian Vegetables
 
Peruvian Potatoes

Peruvian Potatoes

While everybody agrees that the birth place of the potato is in South America, the exact place of origin is unknown and reason for the one or other open dispute between Chile and Peru. In any case there is scientific evidence that potatoes were domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago in the High Andes of southeastern Peru and northwestern Bolivia.

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Did you know...?

In Peru you can find more than 3800 varieties of potatoes. They differ in size, shape, color, skin, pulp, texture and of cause in their taste, but all have their place in the Peruvian cuisine.

The Spanish word "papa" for potato is originally Quechua (Native Peruvian Language) and simply means tuber.

 

Peruvian Aji - Chilli Peppers

Aji, also known as pimiento chile, originated in the Americas and are cultivated for around 7000 years. Chili Peppers might have been the first spice with which ancient Peruvians seasoned their dishes and were found in many archeological excavations. Today there are around 300 varieties of chili peppers in Peru being an essential part of the local cuisine. Below find the most commonly used ajis.

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Peruvian Aji - Chilli Peppers
 
Grains, Coffees, Crops, Beans & Nuts

Grains, Coffees, Crops, Beans, Nuts

While very special "pseudograins", nuts and beans are part of the Peruvian culture and nutrition since ancient times, they were rediscovered and gained popularity worldwide in the last few years. The international demand for Peruvian "supergrains" like Kiwicha and Quinua increases steadily, as more health-conscious people become aware of the nutritional value.

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Common Peruvian Herbs

Next to Aji (hot peppers) aromatic herbs play a fundamental part in the Peruvian cuisine. While the Peruvian cooking and ingredients vary regionally lots of herbs are incorporated into the dishes. Probably the most used aromatic herbs are Cilantro, Huacatay, Oregano and Basil, but there are many more that are essential for traditional Peruvian dishes. And lots of herbs are used in Peru's natural medicine.

All Common Herbs...

Common Peruvian Herbs