Spices and strong flavours are to be expected in Peruvian cuisine, together with fresh, healthy meal options. The national dish is ceviche – a marinated fresh fish dish. ‘Lima causa’ is another popular dish, consisting of potato, avocado, tomato and tuna fish. For those who keep guinea pigs as pets, ‘cuy’ is not a good plan to try as this Peruvian delicacy does not disguise the animal it comes from! Either fried or roasted to give it a crispy skin, you can expect to see a whole guinea pig served in full form and it is typically eaten using hands instead of using cutlery.
If you’d like to stick to more familiar meats, ‘lomo saltado’ is Peru’s answer to steak and chips. Marinated strips of sirloin steak are mixed with onions, tomatoes and French fries, then usually served with rice. Another beef dish is ‘antichucos’ - grilled beef heart served on skewers. Like beef, alpaca meat is commonly served in Peru. Be sure to try ‘pachamanca’ - a spicy meat dish of either mutton, lamb, chicken, guinea pig or pork, that is baked underground on hot stones. ‘Pollo a la brasa’ brings together a blend of soy sauce, lime juice, paprika, pepper, oregano, cumin and garlic as a marinade on grilled chicken. Vegetarians will have plenty to choose from too, with dishes such as ‘escribano arequipeno’ (potato salad with peppers), ‘ensalada de pallares’ (a lima butter bean salad in a citrus dressing), and ‘empanadas’ (small pastries that can either be meat-filled or vegetarian). Those with a sweet tooth are in luck as Peruvian ‘dulces’ (sweets or desserts) are abundant.
One of the most popular is ‘suspiro limeño’ - a delicious combination of caramelised sugar, cinnamon, Port wine and meringue. ‘Pie de limon’ (lime pie), ‘crema volteada’ (crème caramel), ‘torta de chocolate’ (chocolate cake), ‘piona’ (a sponge cake roll with jam or jelly inside and coated with powdered sugar), ‘mazamorra morada’ (a thick type of jam or jelly made from purple corn, giving it a unique flavour), and ‘leche asada’ (a roasted custard dish) are just some of the delights you can try. Peru also boasts some wonderful tropical fruits, including the lucuma - a fleshy fruit that is a yellow-orange colour and has a sweet, caramel taste. It can be eaten raw, cooked, dried or used as a sweetener in powered form.