Peruvian Food

In all of my travels, I have never before been in a city that takes such pride in their food. And Limeans aren’t the only ones noticing the terrific variety of tastes available in Lima, but Food & Wine magazine recently named Lima one of the Three Food Cities to Watch.

Lima sits on the coast of Peru and receives a cold water current that provides delicious fresh fish. Seafood restaurants are scattered throughout Lima, serving dishes such as rice and mixed seafood, fried fish with potatoes and the Peruvian icon ceviche. Traditionally, ceviche is made of raw fish, onions and peppers that then “cooks” in lime juice. A true ceviche is also served with corn and a side of sweet potatoes to help cut the tartness of the fish. Though the raw fish can be unsettling, I have never before had such a light, crisp meal of a hot summer day.

Peru is almost twice the size of Texas and within its boarders contains three distinct climates: the coast, the Andes and the Amazon. Not only does this make for breathtaking sightseeing, one can visit the ocean, endless sand dunes, giant mountains and a lush jungle, all in one country, these different climates also create an array of unique produce. One small part of this variety is that Peru is home to over 400 different varieties of potatoes, which explains why potatoes of all sorts show up in almost every traditional Peruvian meal. Young Peruvian chefs are experimenting with flavors from different climates in order to give Peruvian food a truly unique taste.

When people ask me how I am adjusting to my new life in Lima, I usually respond by telling them that I like the food. This answer then garners a very excited, “Yes, the food! The food is wonderful!” They then go on to ask if I have tried a variety of Peruvian dishes for example: antichucos (cow heart, yes I’ve tried it but now if I eat it with every bite all I can think of is: “heart, heart, heart, heart, heart”), cuy (guinea pig, I won’t be trying this), lomo saltado (beef with onions, pepper and tomatoes in soy sauce, my favorite!) and the list goes on and on. Peruvians have a national pride when it comes to their food and now this reputation has become international.

Over the past few years, several magazines and new organizations have announced that Peru is a new hot spot for “gastronomical tourism,” a fancy term to say “tourism based on food”. Nearly every tour organization has some sort of tour package that brings tourists to the best restaurants in the city, all the way from a five star restaurant down to a hole-in-wall with the best potatoes. When in Peru, there is no shortage of amazing dishes which could keep these foodie tourists occupied for weeks.

The only warning is this: with rice and potatoes served during traditional meals, everyone needs to watch out for the Peruvian 15.