Peruvian Gastronomy

Suggested by: Andean Exclusive Tours


"Latin American cuisine has an increasing weight in the culinary world order. Especially Peruvian, Mexican, and Argentine gastronomy. These three countries, with their most outstanding restaurants, the champions of their haute cuisine, accounted for more than half of the positions on the list of the 50 best Restaurants in Latin America in its most recent edition, or what is the same: these three territories concentrate more than half of the best establishments in the subcontinent in their cities, with the Peruvians being the most abundant for several years. Something that is not casual."

The best of peruvian gastronomy

The richness of its lands and its cultural diversity make Peru a country of exquisite and varied gastronomy. Each city has a typical dish with a unique flavor. Thousands of products from the countryside and dozens of living cultures that have shared a single territory for centuries created an infinite offer for the palate.

Peruvian gastronomy is a celebration of Peru. A country with an ancient tradition and a promising future that does not lose sight of its roots and where the art of good eating stands out among its inhabitants as one of the most distinctive signs of its identity. Do you want to know why Peruvian gastronomy is a trend? Next, we will explain the reasons!

Origin of Peruvian gastronomy

Did you know that Peruvian gastronomy is made up of foods and flavors from the four continents? That's right, its originality lies in its ability to incorporate the influence of different times and cultures. Here we tell you how the unique flavor of our country was born and why it is so valuable to celebrate and preserve our culinary traditions.

The origin of Peruvian food dates back to pre-Inca cultures and the Incas. The central Peruvian Andes was the largest center for the domestication of plants in the ancient world, with native species such as corn, tubers with two thousand five hundred varieties of potatoes, many sweet potatoes, yucca or manioc, oca, maca, grasses quinoa, kiwicha or amaranth, cañihua. And an infinity of fruits and aromatic herbs such as chocha, yuyo, salt, and chili.

Perhaps you did not know it, but as we mentioned above, the Peruvian natives had already domesticated hundreds of varieties of potatoes before the Spanish arrived. And this tuber is one of the most important contributions of the Incas to the entire world. You just have to remember how many countries have used the potato in their gastronomy. Impressive, right? In addition, the diet of the Incas was carried out by meats such as alpaca and guinea pigs.

Origen de la gastronomía peruana Photo: Peruvian Pachamanca

With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Peruvian menu was greatly enriched, they brought the lime and it was adapted over time to the Peruvian land, it was transformed into the current Peruvian variety called lemon. The vine (from which pisco originates) and the wines are also part of this period. In addition, with the arrival of the Spanish, they brought with them African slaves who influenced the creation of two of the best dishes in Peru, such as Anticuchos and Tacu Tacu.

Peruvian gastronomy today

Today, Peruvian cuisine preserves a large part of the legacy left by those who inhabited the empire before the conquest and all the dishes that emerged after it. If not completely, yes in part thanks to this assimilation of new techniques and new ingredients, old preparations survive today, especially in the most rural areas of the country.

It is the wealth that we have not stopped talking about, the heritage that gives Peru its luster and turned Lima, within the framework of the Madrid Fusion 2006 summit, into the gastronomic capital of America.
Food is one more flag of Peruvians, from the most traditional recipes to the cuisine practiced in the best restaurants, promoters of innovations and vanguards through haute cuisine.

Peruvian cuisine: internationally acclaimed

Designated as Cultural Patrimony of the Nation on October 16, 2007, this recognition has consolidated Peruvian gastronomy as part of the cultural identity of Peru.

Origen de la gastronomía peruana Photo: Peruvian cuisine worldwide

In addition, he has received numerous awards, for example:

  • Cultural Heritage of the Americas in September 2011.
  • Lima was named by National Geographic among the 10 Best Culinary Destinations in the world in 2016.
  • Peru was chosen as the Best Culinary Destination in the World 2019 —for the eighth consecutive year— at the World Travel Awards (WTA).
  • “Maido” and “Central” —both in Lima— entered the list of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World in 2019.

Characteristics of Peruvian gastronomy that make it famous

After seeing some of their awards, let's review what makes Peruvian cuisine so attractive:

It is the best example of fusion food

Foreign recipes in which original ingredients are substituted for native ones or upside down, Peruvian recipes in which some ingredients are added or changed for traditional products from other cultures.

Among the foreign cultures that stand out in this colorful and delicious fusion, we find the Chinese, Italian, Japanese, African, Spanish, and French cultures. Some examples of Peruvian dishes that are the result of fusion:

Nikkei, a sophisticated combination:

Japanese immigrants were called Nikkei in Peru and Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine kept that name. With elegant recipes, this style combines leading ingredients of Japanese cuisine, such as rice and fish, with typical Peruvian products, such as peppers and grains. Some dishes of Peruvian cuisine acclaimed in the world belong to the famous Nikkei fusion, for example:

  • Ceviche.
  • Tiraditos.
  • Makis.
  • Tacuchaufa of rice.
  • Tuna sashimi.
  • Salmon sushi accompanied with creole sauce.
  • Octopus with olive.

Cebiche peruano Photo: Cebiche

Pulpo al olivo Photo: Octopus with olive

Chinese food (Chifa), the most popular fusion:

Chinese food (Chifa) food is born from the combination of recipes brought by Chinese immigrants with the addition of Peruvian ingredients. Chinese food (Chifa) restaurants number in the hundreds in Peru and their most famous dishes are:

  • Hoop rice "Arroz Chaufa".
  • Wantan soup.
  • Alpaca wrap.

Arroz chaufa Photo: Arroz Chaufa

Sopa Wantan Photo: Wantán Soup

Peruvian cuisine with a Mediterranean accent:

Italian immigration brought to Peru the characteristic ingredients of Mediterranean recipes: vegetables, pizzas, and pasta. Italian fusion cuisine gives us masterful creations such as:

  • Chard cake.
  • Italian tripe.
  • Green noodles with fried eggs or steak.
  • Red spaghetti.
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Salted loin pizza.

Mondonguito a la Italiana Photo: Italian tripe

Sopa Menestrón Photo: Minestrone Soup

2. It has traditional ingredients and ancestral customs

Peru has a great variety of dishes by region. It doesn't matter if you go to the coast, the jungle, or the mountains, you will always be delighted with their delicious recipes! Among its ingredients, Peruvian gastronomy has fresh raw materials of excellent quality and great variety: fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, peppers, corn, spices, avocados, quinoa, aguaymanto, and much more, which offer you high nutritional value and special flavors.

We can say, then, that Peruvian food has centuries of history and development and is a fundamental part of the Inca heritage, but that at the same time it was enriched by Spanish, African, French, and Chinese-Cantonese culture.

All this has made Peru a power in gastronomic tourism that you cannot miss.

3. It has characteristic dishes in each region

Peruvian gastronomic culture has characteristic dishes for each region. Every time you visit a new city when traveling to Peru, you will see new recipes, variants of famous dishes, and, in general, a unique stamp that will delight you and will remain engraved in your memory. Let's see, then, what Peruvian food is like in each region:

La sierra: powerful and nutritious dishes

It covers the area of the Cordillera de Los Andes and crosses the country from north to south. Here, visitors find excellent cuisine with flavors and colors that make each presentation unique. Here are some examples:

  • Fried Trout: this fish, with a high content of minerals and vitamins, is an essential part of the diet of the populations of the Peruvian highlands. In restaurants, this fish is served with potatoes, salads, and different local sauces.
  • Lamb's Head Broth: This broth has great flavor and is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. It is boiled for hours, after cleaning and chopping the head of the lamb, and it is accompanied by potatoes, rice, and salt to taste.
  • Patasca Soup:it is also known as tripe, a preparation that we also see in other Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Venezuela. Its main ingredient is the guts of the cows, and it also has beef in pieces and different vegetables.
  • Cuy chactado: this preparation consists of frying the Cuy, a typical animal of Peruvian gastronomy until it obtains a texture that is as soft inside as it is crispy on the outside. It is also accompanied by sauces, French fries, and salad.

trucha frita Photo: Fried Trout

cuy chactado Photo: Cuy Chactado

The coast: fresh and simple recipes.

Although each coastal city has its gastronomy, fish, yellow chili, red chili, shellfish, potatoes, and rice are present in most of their recipes. Without a doubt, the most popular dish is ceviche, a delicacy of Peruvian gastronomy with a simple preparation: basically, it consists of pieces of fresh fish that are left to marinate in a container with lemon juice for approximately 20 minutes, at which red onion, coriander or cilantro, chili, and salt are added to give it intense aromas and flavors. Other typical dishes of the coast are:

  • Rice with seafood: It has prawns, clams, squid, and other delicious sea species. It is prepared with traditional white rice and is given a distinctive touch with Peruvian spices.
  • Sautéed noodles: is a dish that has a Chinese influence, along with the best of Peruvian cuisine. It has beef, usually, loins cut into strips, yellow pepper, cumin, and other ingredients that give it a Creole touch.
  • Fish jelly: is one of the simplest dishes to prepare in Peruvian cuisine. These are fish fillets – such as cheetah, sole, sea bass, and tilapia – floured, seasoned with different peppers, and bathed in Creole and tartar sauce.
  • Mussels a la chalaca: it is a dish of mussels or mussels stuffed with onion, coriander, lemon juice, and other ingredients.
  • Green rice with seafood: it is similar to traditional rice with seafood with the difference that a green variant is used, a color that it obtains previously by being cooked with tomatoes, coriander, and other vegetables.

Rice with seafood Photo: Rice with seafood

Mussels a la chalaca Photo: Mussels a la Chalaca

The jungle: meals with special flavors.

Amazonian gastronomy is the owner of a distinctive imprint: sophisticated and exuberant flavors that mix unique ingredients such as tropical fruits and river fish such as paiche. Among its most acclaimed dishes are:

  • Juane: This native dish from Moyobamba is a kind of large tamale, based on rice with egg and chicken or hen. The rice covers the meat or is used and can be bathed in some local sauce.
  • Patarashca: is another delicious dish based on river fish, which is seasoned with typical spices from the Peruvian jungle.
  • Inchicapi: It is an Amazonian soup that captivates all visitors due to its peculiar flavor and diversity. It is made from domestic chicken - raised in homemade pens - and is accompanied by liquefied peanuts, which gives it a special and unique taste. It also has yucca, cilantro, and other vegetables.
  • Fish casserole: it includes different Amazonian fish and mollusks, which makes it a very varied and delicious stew. Among the fish is hake or Corvina, while squid and octopus are part of the mollusks. Also, the casserole is accompanied by boiled rice and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
  • Chonta salad: the San Martín region, families eat chonta (or palmita) salad daily, but it becomes even more popular during Holy Week. The chonta, its main ingredient, is a palm tree with a particular flavor and strong smell, which is chopped into small pieces and cooked with tomato and other vegetables that the diner likes.
  • Humitas: This dish is nothing more than corn cob leaves, known as humitas, seasoned with species from the Amazon jungle. Also, it is usually combined with a paste of cooked and ground corn.

juane Photo: Juane

4. Recipes adapted to all pockets

Every place where you can taste Peruvian gastronomy offers you exquisite dishes, whether it is the best restaurant or a small street stall.

The drinks of Perú

Thanks to the quantity and variety of fruits that are produced in Peru, it is truly enviable. The innovation of specialists has led to exotic combinations that make it impossible to know exactly how many flavors can be enjoyed.

Chicha de Jora and Chicha Morada:

Corn represents a basic and historical input, which is even used for the preparation of drinks such as the traditional chicha de Jora and the Creole chicha Morada. Chicha de Jora is made from fermented corn with fruit and was used by ancient Peruvians in special ceremonies, while chicha Morada is made from corn boiled with fruit and mixed with sugar and lemon to taste.

chicha de jora Photo: Chicha de Jora

chicha morada Photo: Chicha Morada

Pisco and pisco sour

Pisco, the national drink of Peru, is a grape brandy that emerged in Ica in colonial times after the Spanish introduced the first vineyards in Peru.

The word pisco is part of the name of a large number of Peruvian towns, regions, and hamlets, such as Piscohuasi or Piscopampa. Furthermore, in the mid-16th century, the Spanish began to use the name pisco to designate a river, a town, and a port south of Lima (see Pisco - Paracas). The first news in Peru about the production of grape brandy dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.
Currently, to preserve the denomination of origin, it is only produced on the coast (up to 2000 meters above sea level) in the departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.

Pisco can be enjoyed pure or in a long list of cocktails such as the chilcano, the algarrobina, or the pisco sour. The latter is the most emblematic.

pisco peruano Photo: Peruvian Pisco

pisco sour Photo: Pisco Sour

Peruvian gastronomy has the world at its feet!

Unquestionably, Peruvian cuisine is one of the most acclaimed in the world thanks to the creative quality of its chefs, the generosity of a territory rich in first-rate raw materials, a culinary history open to renewal, and the sum of different cultures.
After the incredible mix of flavors from the four continents, Peruvian cuisine has enriched and evolved, and continues to evolve at an unimaginable pace! That is why it is difficult to list all its dishes in their entirety.

Therefore, if you go to Peru and try several of the dishes mentioned in this post, you will be connecting with the culture and origins of this society, one of the most colorful in Latin America.

You know: every adventure in Peru begins and ends with good food.

Peruvian food

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