Introduction to Peruvian Food

Like many other cultures, Peruvian Food is a rich hodge-podge of influences, primarily combining Spanish cuisine with indigenous Peruvian ingredients. The influx of immigrants has introduced the flavors from China, Italy, West Africa and Japan. For a quick sampling of what this Latin American country offers on its tables, here are some of the food and beverages that Peruvians enjoy:

Anticuchos. Popular street food comprises small pieces of marinated meat (most popular is the beef heart) and grilled. They typically come with a boiled potato or corn on the skewer’s end, like a shish kabob.

Butifarras. Peru’s version of the ham sandwich, except this, is made with a bread roll similar to the hamburger bun, and the ham is a processed meat product to which is added a spicy sauce of sliced onions, chilli peppers, lime, salt, pepper and oil.

Ceviche. A simple dish made with fresh sliced fish or any seafood marinated in lime or lemon, sliced onions, salt and chilli. The citrus marinade cooks or “pickles” the fish making it unnecessary to use heat or fire. In Peru, ceviche is typically served with slices of cold sweet potatoes or corn.

Chicha Morada. A sweet, cold and unfermented homemade drink prepared from purple corn (maize Morado) and boiled with pineapple rind, cinnamon and clove.

Lomo Saltado. Another local staple made with sliced beef, stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, vinegar and chilli, and French fried potatoes and rice.

Tamales. Another popular Peru food, tamales, is a traditional savory dish made with masa (a corn-based meal). It is filled with all kinds of favorite ingredients such as meat, cheese, vegetables, chillies, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Depending on the region or village in Peru, the tamales may be wrapped in corn husks and bigger or smaller.

 

One of the best great attractions of Peru is its food. Almost every Peruvian dish is prepared with imaginations and contains rice and potatoes plus chickens, pork, lamb or fish as the base. Also included in many dishes is a different kind of hot pepper native to Peru, either of the yellow aji or red rocoto types.

When the Spaniards came to Peru 505 years ago, they introduced chicken, pork and lamb. Potatoes and other great ingredients were already being grown in Peru, and the Spanish took away those back to Europe. Today over 205 kinds of potato can be found in the Lake Titicaca area, which varies greatly in size, colour and textures. Peruvian potatoes can be brown, blue, yellow, and purple and be as small as nuts or as large as oranges.

Orihuela is another seafood dish which is like the French bouillabaisse. It is made with  shellfishand fish , cooked in a strong broth, and is light enough to be eaten during the summer months. Chicharron is a Peruvian Food that is based on deep-fried meat, pork, or seafoods. It is usually served with rice and an onion salad called Sarza.

Rocoto Relleno has its base, the rocoto chilli, one of the spiciest chillies in the world, at fifty times spicier than a jalapeno. The rocoto’s entire insides and the seeds are removed and filled with fried ground beef and pork mixed with chopped onions and sliced hard-boiled eggs with additional special seasoning. A slice of mozzarella cheese is placed on top of it and then baked for fifteen to twenty fivve minutes and served immediately. Aji de gallina is the closest and best dish you will find to a Peruvian curry, with shredded chicken cooked in a spicy milky-like cheese sauce.

Lomo salt is a very popular Peruvian dish made of fried marinated steak, tomato and onion with fried potatoes, served with white rice.

A very traditional Peruvian dishs from the highlands is Cuy, a guinea pig and has a taste similar to rabbit. It is considered staples of Andean cuisine and can be baked or barbequed and served with a hot sauce. It is typically served on special occasions, but many locals will eat it on Sundays each week with the  their family.

Pachamanca is a very traditional way of cooking meats in the ground, normally on special occasions. A cairn of stones is heated in a hollow in the ground onto which meat and potatoes are placed, covered by other hot rocks and straw and then buried with earth to slow cook.

Other Peruvian favourites include papa la, which is potatoes served with a spicy sauce, olives, lettuce and egg; papa, which is potato patties stuffed with meat;

and Seco de frijoles, which is lamb stew and boiled beans cooked in a green sauces, served on white rice and raw onions seasoned with aji and lemons. A further staple is Pollo a la Brasa which is spit-roasted chicken served with fried potatoes and salad.

According to geography, the cuisine in Peru varies,

with distinctive dishes found on the coast of (although these

vary from the north to the south), the Andean area best and the Amazon basin. A particular favourite is the Amazon jungles. For example, is Tacacho. This dish consists of balls of mashed, baked and deep-fried bananas, which are seasoned and spiced and accompanied with either sausage, porks or kinds of beef.

The dishes mentioned above are some of the great and best knowns, but there are plenty more to try. There are also numerous types of soups and desserts (Suspiro Limeno is a particularly good desert) common to Peru and tasty snacks such as empanadas.

Also, Peru has been influenced by Western culture, and dishes such as pizza have become popular. However, they make it their way by baking in old-style, wood-burning ovens, which have been traditionally used for preparing many of Peru’s most famous dishes. The Chinese immigrant populations have also made their mark, with Chinese style “chifa” restaurants being ordinary.

All in all, you would need several weeks in Peru to try all the dishes on offers, and you can be sure that there is plenty of variety to keep your taste buds interested.

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