Top Five Traditional Peruvian Foods to Try During Your Peru Vacation Tour

by James Eder on June 1, 2012

Peru is a major center for food variety in South America; with a rich blend of local foods and imported crops, local cuisine offers a startling variety of ingredients for travelers to enjoy, and different foods can be found in different climates. Here are five of the top traditional foods that visitors can enjoy.

Most popular in the coastal regions where seafood is readily accessible, Ceviche (or, in some regions, Cebiche) is a seafood dish where raw fish is marinated in citrus juices and spiced to taste, often served with side-dishes that complement the flavors. The exact flavoring frequently varies, but proper Ceviche is always fresh. Perhaps the most interesting variation can be found in the Trujillo area, where Ceviche is sometimes prepared from shark meat rather than a more common type of fish.

One of Peru’s more traditional dishes is the Papa rellena, a type of stuffed potato most common in the Lima and Central Coast region where the influence from Spanish colonists remains the most powerful. Within the outer shell, the food combines minced meat (usually beef), onions, whole olives, hardboiled eggs, and various spices. Once the ingredients have been put together, the entire mass is deep-fried. While perhaps not suitable as a dinner course during a Peru vacation, Papa rellena is often consumed for lunch and usually comes with some form of sauce to adjust the flavor a bit.

The northern coast of Peru offers a considerable difference in style when compared to the southern areas of the country. With generally warmer temperatures, different historical influences, and a greater array of certain ingredients, residents eventually came up with Shambar, an unusually complex soup. The dish incorporates a wide variety of beans (including chickpeas, lima beans, dry beans), wheat grain, multiple types of meat (usually chicken, beef, and pork), and an immensely complex set of spices that help create its complex flavor. Shambar is considered by some to be the most traditional dish of the area, and it serves as an attractive choice for anyone looking to experience the full richness of local tastes.

The mountainous Andes region offers fewer offerings for variety due to the difficulty of raising certain crops and the lack of some types of livestock. However, one meal that locals occasionally consume is the Pachamanca, a massive meal designed more for a large number of guests than a single person looking for some Peru food. After mixing meats, produce such as sweet potatoes and corn, and various spices, the entire set is put under hot stones to bake for over an hour. Considered to be something of a festival dish, Pachamanca is most commonly available during celebrations, though some local restaurants specialize in serving it regularly.

Ocopa is a generally regional dish in Peru that can be found in a variety of areas and during many Peru tours, though some of the more outlying areas may not have it available. After yellow potatoes have been sliced and boiled, they are covered in a chili pepper sauce, a local herb (to give Ocopa its distinctive green color), and white cheese to create the main part of the dish. Lettuce and eggs are often added as a side, and certain restaurants may add walnuts as well. The vivid sauce gives Ocopa the sharp taste common to Peruvian cuisine and adds most of the main flavor of the dish.

These are just some of the many options available for Peruvian foods; with its wide variety of ingredients and varied climates, Peru offers enough diversity in meals to suit just about any desire.

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James Eder June 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

I’ve always found food to be one of the most interesting things about travel. A lot of people tend to stick with what they know, but you’d be surprised how many tasty things you can find once you start looking. For those who still aren’t certain, I suggest trying a local dessert at least once; it probably won’t be anywhere near as expensive as a main meal, but it’ll still let you try something new and, most likely, delicious.

Ask what’s in it first, though, especially if you have allergies.

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