The variety which constitutes traditional Peruvian food is what makes it particularly special and has placed it second only to Mexico when it comes to South American cuisine – no mean feat. Thanks to influxes of various ethnic groups throughout the centuries, those of which include African, Asian, Indian and Spanish, food in Peru has played on important role in the country’s culture. As well as this, the country’s range of climates have also made their mark on the diversity of the cuisine. As a result the quality and variety is constantly improving and is also getting it recognised on a global scale.
Broadly speaking, the main focus is on fresh fish, meat and vegetables as well as spices and chillies and some or all of these ingredients can be found in every dish. The most popular fish dishes are ceviche which is a dish made from white fish which has been marinated in a mix of lemon juice, onions and peppers and is served with corn on the cob and sweet potatoes and escabeche which is also made using white fish and served with onions, a variety of peppers, eggs, olives and cheese. For the meat eaters among you try tamales, boiled dumplings which are filled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf, lomo saltado made using stir fried beef, onions, vinegar, tomatoes, potatoes, chilli and served with rice, and causa which is a casserole served cold and made from yellow potato, peppers, onions, avocados and chicken or meat.
And to complete your meal in true Peruvian style, one of the native deserts is an absolute must. Choose between arroz con leche (rice pudding), alfajores (shortbread biscuit with pineapple and peanuts), zango de pasas (maize with syrup, raisins and sugar), manjar blanco (a caramel dish made from milk and sugar), picarones (donut batter covered in honey sauce) turron (shortbread which has been covered in treacle or honey) or chirimoya (apple with custard). For the more health conscious among you, however, you always have the option of one of the array of wonderful tropical fruits on offer. Among the local favourites are lucuma or eggfruit which grows in the highlands and is used in drinks and deserts but is equally delicious eaten straight up, maracuya or passionfruit, tuna or prickly pear which grows on cactus and is a little like watermelon as well as papaya, guava and mango.