Peru is becoming world renown for its culinary scene. In fact, in 2012 it claimed the "Worlds Leading Culinary Destination" at the World Travel Awards. Peru's rich culinary escapades are related to its rich landscapes. On my trip I traveled through deserts, climbed high altitudes, drove around volcanoes and great lakes and traipsed through jungles. This means that Peru has a great variety of ingredients from all these different climates. Peruvian dishes are also considered to be a unique combination of their native ingredients as well as a reflection of the colonial and migrant history of the country. No matter the ingredients and influences, Peru presents an exciting and delicious culinary adventure for everyone, especially the avid foodie. Experiencing as much food as possible was one of my missions for my trip. I was lucky enough to be able to eat everything that I had on my Peruvian foodie bucket list.
After a couple hours of researching online, I had my heart set on visiting one of Lima's most popular restaurants: Cebicheria La Mar. Deservedly ranked on Trip Adviser as the second best restaurant (the first was way too expensive for my budget), La Mar is famous for its ceviche and la causa, which happened to be exactly what I had been eying through my Peruvian food research. There are also many La Mar restaurants opened around the world, including New York and Miami. The restaurant is an extremely popular and cosmopolitan luncheon spot, and I was smart to arrive early, about 30 mins after the restaurant opened it's doors. By 1 pm, there was a line of over 30 people waiting for tables outside. Above is their classic ceviche. If you haven't heard of this dish or haven't tried it, I can promise you that you are missing out and you should immediately look for a Peruvian or South American restaurant near you. Ceviche is essentially fresh raw fish, cured in different citrus and lime juices, with onions, spices, cilantro and chilli. It usually is served with potato and large Andean corn called mote. It is absolutely fantastic and really a treat for your taste buds.
La causa is a light meal that is made of a kind of mashed or pureed potato and usually comes with a variety of other ingredients, such as tuna, chicken mayonnaise, shrimp avocado etc. I'm not a hundred percent sure what all of mine were, as it was a sampler, but I know that one of them was a chicken mayonnaise causa, and one of them was extremely fishy, and another had shrimp. Different, but delicious!
The national drinks of Peru are the Chica Morada (left) and the Pisco Sour (right). The Chica Morada is made from purple corn, and is a staple for many Peruvians. The drink has been around since before the Incans. I tried many, many Pisco Sours on my trip, possibly too many, and they ranged from pretty darn good to extremely strong and designed to knock me off my light-weight drinking feet. The one's that were not too strong sour-wise and not too potent-alcoholic wise were the best for me!
The rocoto relleno (stuffed roasted pepper) was very high on my bucket list of Peruvian food. I had seen a lot of pictures of this dish before so I thought it looked really interesting and tasty. I was lucky enough to snag one of these beauties when my group went for lunch at El Tio Dario in Arequipa. There were not enough for all of us, which I only realized later, so I was very grateful that I was able to try one. It was spicy and superb and definitely something you should try while in Peru. Arequipa had some of the best food, so if you're a foodie, add it to your list!
Some more drinks of Peru. Coca tea is used to ward off altitude sickness, but is also a treat. Peruvians are also known for their coffee. I had a cappuccino at the Puku Puku Cafe in Lima, an extremely popular little hideaway. Their coffee is all organic and is beautiful.
One of my favorite restuarnts in Peru was the Zig Zag restaurant in Arequipa. The restaurant itself is beautiful and actually the perfect venue for a romantic dinner. Our group spoilt that atmosphere somewhat, as we were very loud, and had a lot of wine. Oops. They have a large menu, but the majority of us opted for the volcanic rock alpaca steak. I was somewhat hesitant about trying alpaca, as they look a lot like llamas and I was kind of a big fan of llamas... But when in Peru. The steak was divine, and so was the overall presentation of our meals. I also ordered a chocolate truffle (which only cost me a dollar), as I kept hearing how amazing Arequipa's chocolate is. It was amazing! Only very small. I didn't take a picture of it as a result, as my group and the waitress were all laughing at me with a coin sized truffle on a plate. Still, it was pretty amazing!
I tried empanadas for the first time in a little town in the Sacred Valley. There was a group of six of us girls who ordered them, and the poor guy didn't know what to do with himself with having so many orders.
Besides Lima and Arequipa, Cusco is also a great town for a foodie. Basically, all the larger towns in Peru are great for foodies! The above is an Italian place we went to in Cusco, and for the life of me I cannot remember it's name! It was really great and the tiramisu was divine. Cusco really had some amazing places to eat, I unfortunately was so focused on my food I forgot to take pictures - foodie fail! Papachos is an incredible burger place. The servings are massive and the burger was really tasty. On my last night in Peru, our tour manager took us to Fallen Angel - probably my favorite restaurant of the entire trip. It is a little more pricey than most places, but it is so worth it. The ambiance of the restaurant is incredibly unique and different - one of our tables was a sheet of glass over a filled bath tub that had fish swimming in it! We had balloon hats, and dined under disco balls. I ordered a Thai pasta, as it was recommended by our incredible guide Gabi, and as always, it did not disappoint. We were all blown away by our meals! Again, the biggest foodie fail ever to not get a picture to Instagram annoy everyone with!
WARNING: If you have a guinea pig or are a big fan of them (or have a sensitive disposition) Look away!
Cuy, better know known as our pets the guinea pig to Westerners, is a delicacy in Peru. And of course, when in Peru... This is my tour manager with the guinea pig that her mom made for us. It's kind of hard to find any meat to try, but it's super gamey. Not sure if I was a fan or not, but that was because on both days we tried cuy, I felt pretty ill with motion sickness from being on the bus all day. Always fun to try something different though!
And there you have it! How I ate my way through Peru! The only reason I didn't put on a 100 kg on this trip was because I got sick in the middle of the trip and couldn't stomach any delicious food (I paid 27 soles for a plate of rice at a buffet one day, most expensive plate of rice I've ever had). Just means I have to go back and gorge myself to make up for it!