How do Peruvians eat

Food and dishes in Peru: ceviche, cuy and potatoes

The cuisine of Peru is a diverse mix of traditional dishes from predominantly rural regions and an increasingly popular variety of gourmet foods in the cities. The Peruvians themselves are proud of their local specialties, which combine influences from all parts of the world. No matter which region of Peru you are in, the selection of culinary delights and drinks is huge.

The Peruvian staple foods include, without question, potatoes and corn. It is generously seasoned with garlic, pepper and fresh chili peppers. Ceviche is a typical dish of the coastal regions. In the mountain ranges of the Andes, Peruvians mainly eat cuy, and ingredients such as plantains, beans and cassava are processed in the lush green rainforest. On the way, the typical food stalls on the roadside offer simple but inexpensive dishes.

In the cities, however, the new Peruvian cuisine is currently finding its way and will soon be one of the best in the world. Cocina Novoandina is the name given to the food trend in which top chefs rely on the traditional recipes and preparation methods of the Andean region. Anticuchos (beef heart skewers), alpaca or arroz con pollo (rice with chicken meat) have long since found their way from the domestic stove to the urban starred restaurants.

Bernardo Roca Rey, Luis la Rosa and Gastón Acurio are among the most famous star chefs in Peru. They are masters in creating new recipes on a traditional basis. Lima with its cosmopolitan charm is considered the center of the Cocina Novoandina, but the desire for the gastronomic change in Peru can also be felt in other cities. In Huaraz, Cuzco or Huancayo, in addition to numerous restaurants, alternative cooking schools in particular have distinguished themselves with this concept.

The potato in Peru

There are over 3000 types of potatoes in Peru. The so-called papa must not be missing in any dish in the Andean countries. It is nutritious and goes with any Peruvian dish. Then as now it is one of the staple foods of the Peruvian population and is also the country's most important export. As a food guarantee as well as an economic source it fulfills two functions at the same time.

The black potato chuños and other Peruvian potato dishes

The diversity of species of the round tuber is expressed solely in its variety of colors. From yellow to red to purple or even black, it has a wide spectrum of appearances. The black potatoes are called chuños and are frozen tubers dried in sunlight. The preservation process described makes the fruit very durable. Typical dishes are, for example, Carapulcra, Causa a la Limeña or Papas a la huancaina.

The original potato from the Andes

The potatoes cultivated today mostly come from different local varieties. Most of the original forms can only be grown in the Peruvian Andes. The reason for this is the adaptation to the geology and the climate at these altitudes as well as the day and night cycle that prevails there.

The indigenous Andean peoples have cultivated the potato for centuries. Since the potato is not very demanding, it has always been possible to grow it at high altitudes. This made it the main food of the locals. Only with the discovery of America by the Spaniards did this plant come to Europe in 1562, where it is very popular today, especially in Germany.

Cuy - the guinea pig on the plate

Cuy is regularly served primarily in the Andean regions. The national dish of the Peruvians is either boiled or fried. Cuy is the Peruvian translation for guinea pigs, which in large parts of South America are kept as pets for everyday consumption. Special farms are slowly replacing the small house stalls and primarily serve as meat suppliers for the urban regions. The effort of breeding is low, Cuys multiply in short intervals, as is typical of the species, and in large quantities. Already since 900 BC The animals represent an important source of protein for the Peruvians living in the mountain ranges. The taste is similar to that of rabbits.

Guinea pig recipe: preparation of a cuy dish

Cuy chactado is one of the most famous recipes. The guinea pig is cooked whole, similar to the chicken, and served with potatoes and a salsa criolla. As part of a pachamanca, the meat, e.g. pork and lamb, potatoes, beans, hot peppers and other spices is wrapped in corn leaves and cooked in an earth oven.

The importance of the guinea pig in art and religion

From a mythological point of view, Cuy still play a major role in natural medicine today. In the Inca Empire it was an important sacrificial animal in order to get a good harvest. Even in Christianity, the indigenous rites lived on and were integrated into the Catholic faith. The cathedral of Cuzco shows the image of Jesus with his disciples at the last supper, not with bread and wine. Instead, a grilled guinea pig is served on the table. This church painting comes from the Quechua artist Marcos Zapata and, in terms of art history, belongs to the so-called Cuzco School.

Ceviche - raw fish with limes

Ceviche, raw, marinated fish, tastes best in coastal cities like Lima or Trujillo, where it is freshly caught. In contrast to sushi, however, cevice is marinated in lemon juice and diced.

Preparation with onions

In its original form, it consists of chopped, raw fish of various types that are marinated in lime juice for about 15 minutes. Onion rings of red onions are mixed with the fish. In Peru, ceviche is served with sweet potatoes, roasted corn or yuca. The lime juice is often seasoned with aji (molido - pureed), a special type of chili.

The fiery version of the ceviche

The somewhat fiery alternative is prepared with Rocoto, a very hot, paprika-like vegetable from Peru. The citric acid present in limes denatures the protein, similar to cooking, and delays the raw food from spoiling quickly. This Peruvian culinary delight is definitely a must when traveling along the coast!

Along the coast from Lima - our travel partner will show you the freshest fish in Peru!

Corn with a difference - from drinks and desserts

Along with potatoes, maize is one of the most important vegetable staple foods in Peru. This plant has been grown by the locals for centuries. Over 50 different varieties grow in Peru. This means that the country has the greatest diversity of maize species in the world. Of course, the maize is also exported and is therefore an important commodity, just as it was hundreds of years ago.

The most common type of maize is the Cuzco giant maize, which is grown in 22 of the 25 regions. The Maiz Morado looks particularly pretty with its purple-colored fruit. It becomes the non-alcoholic drink Chicha Morada processed.

The dessert made from the corn on the cob, mainly in the month of October Mazamorra morada is traditionally part of the celebrations of the Señor de los Milagros, a Catholic procession that takes place every year on October 18 in Lima.