Peru Food Info & Links

Gastronomy and Culinary Travel in Peru




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Peruvian cuisine poised to conquer Europe


Peruvian food. Photo:Andina/Archive

Lima, Jun. 25 (ANDINA).

    The "booming" Peruvian cuisine began the conquer Europe through Madrid, the Spanish daily El Pais stated today in a report on renowned chef and businessman Gaston Acurio and the varied cuisine of Peru . The newspaper report entitled “Bistrot a la peruana” (Peruvian Bistrot) mentions the opening of a new Gaston Acurio's restaurant in Madrid, and stresses that Peruvian cuisine combines Inca influences with Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese and Italian-inspired dishes.
    It also highlights its long list of tasty dishes characterized by its generous portions. That experience will be precisely enjoyed at Acurio’s Tanta restaurant, including traditional dishes such as causa, yuca a la huancaina, cebiche, tiradito, anticucho, lomo saltado, aji de gallina, pollo nikkei, and spaghetti al rocoto, the daily reported. Tanta (bread in Quechua) offers a set menu of between 25 - 35 Euros and what the writer (Mario) Vargas Llosa called "one of the most inventive and refined cuisine in the world."

Food business taking off in Peru

By Dan Collyns

BBC News, Lima

Food cuts across all social, racial and geographical barriers

Rich or poor, Peruvians pride themselves on eating well. Fast food is frowned upon and a poorly-prepared platter is seldom tolerated.

Strange in a country where a quarter of children still suffer from malnutrition but Peru's sharp inequality is one of its many paradoxes. It is one of the 10 countries in the world classed as 'mega-diverse' in terms of its biodiversity, which means in nutritional terms it is rich beyond measure.

The Andes holds dozens of unique grains, roots and vegetables. It is the birthplace of the potato, with around 3,000 varieties.

The Peruvian Amazon is sparsely populated but a whole new world of flora and fauna. You can find caiman (a type of crocodile) on the menu here and an enormous freshwater fish, the paiche. Plaintains, peccaries (a type of wild pig) and dozens of unusual fruits make up the cuisine.

Peru's coast has probably the richest fishing grounds in the world thanks to the cold water Humboldt Current which sweeps up the western side of South America from Antarctica.

Gaston Acurio is Peru's number one celebrity chef

While chronic overfishing has left much of the rest of the world's oceans with dwindling fish stocks, Peru's sea is still bountiful. It has 80% of the world's biomass of anchovies near the bottom of a thriving food chain of marine fauna.

Fishmeal exports are one of the principal pillars of the economy. But now it is the food business which could be propping up Peru's strong economic growth as the financial crisis hits commodity prices and the country's extractive industries.

One study by a Peruvian company, Arellano Marketing, predicts that the food business will make up about 11% of Peru's predicted GDP in 2009.

'Story of conquest'

And it's just the beginning, says Gaston Acurio, a celebrity chef and household name in Peru. He is the man with the Midas touch in all things culinary and he aims to make Peruvian cuisine as international as Chinese, Thai and Mexican.

He already has restaurants outside Latin America with La Mar, a seafood restaurant in San Francisco, and he plans to break into New York to really move into the gastronomic fast lane.

Ceviche is Peru's flagship dish

It is Peru's flagship dish of raw fish marinated with Peruvian limes and chillies - ceviche - which will "make the world discover the other Peruvian dishes, just as the Italians did with pasta and pizza and the Japanese did with sushi", says Mr Acurio.

"We are going to start telling our story with ceviche. It's a story of conquest," he explains.

"Our story is one of a third world country. For the first time a Peruvian invention - our food - is seducing the world, so that's like liberation for us."

For Mr Acurio, Peruvian food reflects a perfect blend of all its cultures and races, added to over time by waves of immigration.

"Like an orchestra with a lot of instruments, all our bloods are like a perfect melody," he says.

Food celebrated

La Mistura, or the mixture, is a gastronomic festival organised by the Peruvian Gastronomic Society, or Apega, of which he is president. Hosted in Lima's Parque de Exposicion, or Exhibition Park, it has dozens of food outlets and aims to play host to 200,000 people over four days.

Food is culture in Peru and all its regional varieties are celebrated

The event began with a speech by Peru's president, Alan Garcia, who spoke of Peruvians' self-esteem and pride in their national cuisine. A confidence boost for a nation which won't qualify for the 2010 Football World Cup.

The government has passed a decree declaring that food is part of the nation's heritage and contributes to the "consolidation of national identity". And that identification seems to be a tangible economic force as the restaurant sector is still growing despite the global financial crisis.

"Peruvian cooking is terrific, it's now just a question of doing what the Japanese have done," says Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist and author.

"It's not just a question of the quality. It's a question of how you patent it, brand it, capitalise it and finance it."

Creating opportunities

Chef schools are opening up across the country, with more than 6,000 students now studying haute cuisine but with Peruvian ingredients.

"If someone tells you their son is a chef, they say it with great pride so obviously cooking has gone up in the esteem of Peruvians," says Mr de Soto.

Being a chef is something to be proud of

"I think I'd rather my son was a chef in this country than a congressman."

To be a chef also means creating opportunities for those who don't have them in Peru, says Gaston Acurio. As the gastronomy business grows so, in turn, will the demand for quality Peruvian produce, be it coffee, red onions or native potatoes, bought for a fair price from a small farmer.

"Food must be a space to break down the barriers and prejudices in our country," explains Mr Acurio.

"If we can be a vehicle for that then our work is justified. We should because food and hunger are not compatible.

"As Peruvian cooks we need to be proud not only of our food but to be proud of what we build in our country too."

How to Eat Ceviche in Lima

HOW TO: Grab a Cusqueña and get comfortable. As Nicholas Gill explains, a trip to a Peruvian cevichería can be an all-day immersion in good conversation and raw seafood.

Photo by Nicholas Gill


  The situation: It’s Sunday, and after a night out in Lima, Peru, you’ve found yourself in a cevichería. It’s more, you discover, than a mere place to order ceviche. It’s a cultural institution where lime juice abounds, and the events and misadventures from the previous night are discussed, reenacted and celebrated. Here’s your primer.

When to go: While most cevicherías are open daily, Sunday is traditionally their busiest day and visiting one is a weekly ritual for many Limeños. After partying until dawn the night before in Lima’s discos, you might rest for a few hours but still feel like the bottom of your shoe. The act of going to a cevichería is something that can both refresh and revive; a combination of hair of the dog and raw seafood. The experience begins in the late morning and typically lasts all day; the overindulgence may, on a good day, eclipse that of the night before.

    The basics: Early, crude forms of ceviche began to appear in pre-Colombian times in the coastal civilizations of South America where fish was “cooked” with a fruit called tumbo. Later the Incas ate salted fish marinated in chicha, a fermented corn drink, and when the Spanish arrived, they added limes and onions to the mix.

Ceviche preparations vary from place to place—in Mexico, finely diced fish in lemon juice is served with crackers and Tabasco; in Ecuador, ceviche includes tomatoes and is much soupier; in the Andes, chefs use trout—but it’s the Peruvian version that’s recently caught on outside Latin America.

In Peru, ceviche is eaten as a first course or appetizer. The dish requires fresh, quality ingredients; precise and lightning-fast execution; and a basic understanding of spices and acidity. The chef tosses fresh chunks of any firm white fish, such as flounder or sea bass, with onions, bits of Peruvian ají peppers, seasoning and—most importantly—lime juice only minutes before serving. Ceviche isn’t exactly raw like sashimi is raw, though. The acid in the lime actually cooks the fish just before you eat it, resulting in an explosion of taste and texture. In the same dish you’ll find a slice of sweet potato, a few sticks of boiled yucca and a small piece of corn on the cob.

    Where to go: Pick up Lima’s restaurant guide, “Guia Gastronomica,” for suggestions, or head to the seaside districts of Barranco and Chorrillos, and look for the crowds spilling into the street from restaurants like Punta Arenas or La Canta Rana. For a step up in price and quality, check out dining options in the Miraflores district such as Caplina or the trendster hot spot La Mar, owned by Lima’s outspoken TV chef Gastón Acurio. At either you’ll find local celebrities and wealthy Limeños sipping on pisco-infused cocktails and noshing on Novo Andino (New Andean) foods, including a lineup of ceviches and tiraditos.

    Still, the best cevicherías are a bit out of the way. Sonia, a ceviche shack near the Chorrillos fish market that has grown a fanatic following, is tucked away in a far corner of the city. Sankuay, aka Chez Wong, sits in an unpretentious part of Lima, but the loyal ensemble of BMWs and Mercedes outside give it away as a culinary gem. Inside, chef Javier Wong takes a look at you and decides what you are going to eat. If you don’t like it, then leave.

Order like an expert: To begin, pick at the toasted, salted corn kernels called cancha serrana already on the table, and make your first order. Start with something to drink, say, Leche de Tigre, aka Tiger’s Milk. It’s like a kick in the face. More clearly defined, it’s the tangy juice left over at the bottom of the ceviche bowl served in a tall shot glass. Sometimes it’s mixed with a shot of pisco, a white brandy that is Peru’s national spirit. Throw in a few 32-ounce beers (always Pilsen or Cusqueña) for everyone to share. If dining after a rough night, opt for a pisco sour. Better yet, make it a double.

    Next, move on to the goods: ceviche or tiradito. Ceviche comes in many forms: clásico (the traditional mix), mixto (with fish, squid, octopus and scallops), camarón (with crayfish), black conch (said to increase your sexual prowess), pato (with duck), and champiñones (with mushrooms). Tiradito is the modish, young cousin of ceviche. Created by Nikkei (Japanese) chefs in Lima, it relies on the tradition of dousing raw fish in lime juice, but the slices are paper thin and its makers add a spicy ají-based sauce.

    Once you’ve finished your ceviche—another round of drinks, by the way, has likely been put on the table without your asking—you can order the rest of your meal. Your second course will be something hearty, and typically served with rice.

    Need more starch? Try tacu-tacu de mariscos: day-old rice and beans refried and stuffed with seafood. Something more filling? Lenguado a la macho: flounder in a zesty sauce of onion, garlic, paprika, cilantro and rocoto peppers. Something unusual? Arroz negro: rice cooked in squid ink with sautéed squid, scallops and crayfish. Something multinational? Camarón saltado: a variation of Peru’s favorite Chinese fusion dish with shrimp instead of chicken.

Bask in the benefits: Die-hard connoisseurs will try to sell you the health attributes of ceviche like a can of snake oil—it will prevent sleepwalking, cure a hangover, and even increase your sex drive. While there may be some truth to their words, a visit to a cevicheria will at the very least guarantee good times and a full belly. Buon Provecho!

Cuisine takes the lead in Peru

Peruvian cebiche . Photo: ANDINA / Archivo/ Jorge Paz.

Lima, May 22 (ANDINA). Over the last five years, Peruvian cuisine has become one of the most inclusive businesses in the country, which directly or indirectly involves all economic activities in the market. According to estimates by the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy (Apega), gastronomy has reshaped our identity as a nation; it generates around US$ 1.5 billion a year and employs more than 300000. It also people along the production chain.

"Half of the population think cuisine is what best represents Peruvian culture to the outside world. It's not just eating well, we have a brand that differentiates us from others," Apega’s President Bernardo Roca Rey said. 

In fact, more than one third of our household budget is spent on food, which includes frequent trips to rotisserie chicken restaurants (pollerias), seafood restaurants or Chinese Peruvian restaurants (chifas) among the wide variety offered by nearly 70000 restaurants across the country, Peru21 daily reported.

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PERU, a diversity of flavor

Some call this type of travel a culinary tour or gastronomy tour. We choose to call them Food Tours - travel with a bent on culinary anthropology.

A Brief History of Peruvian Cuisine


Potatoes are probably the main contribution of the Incas to the world. By the early XVI century, when Spaniards arrived, Peruvian natives had already domesticated some 1000 varieties of the tuber. Although potatoes were fundamental to their diet, Inca cuisine also comprised cereals like quinua and corn, meats like alpaca and cuy (a native guinea pig), fruits, and obviously hot peppers -their most significant gift to Peruvian cuisine. Many Inca dishes have make it practically unchanged to the XXI century, and are cooked just like 500 years ago. The best examples are probably carapulca and pachamanca.

During the Spanish Viceroyalty, which spanned over 3 centuries, the Iberian introduced many culinary techniques and ingredients, such as olives, grapes, dairy products, beef, chicken, and rice. Although native and Spanish cultures -and cuisines- were at first unconnected, they began to gradually mix, until they successively fused in Creole culture. New Criollo cuisine took the best of the two worlds to create dishes like ají de gallina or papa a la huancaína, where hot peppers, cheese and milk gently blend in delicious sauces.

Spanish though didn't came alone. They brought with them African slaves, many of whom worked in the cuisines of the noble and the wealthy. Over the years African influence proved essential to Peruvian culture, particularly regarding music and cuisine. Their talent in creating delightful dishes from poor, discarded ingredients has produced two of Peru's best: anticuchos and tacu-tacu.

After independence (1821), a consistent wave of European immigrants arrived in Peru, and their cuisines -in particular French and Italian- provided an additional twist to the culinary melting pot.


However, the real gastronomic revolution arrived from the Far East. First were the Chinese, brought during the mid XIX century as cheap labour, mainly for working in cotton and sugar-cane plantations. Chinese fervently conserved their cultural identity and traditions, and when their contracts expired many moved to Lima, establishing in a zone that was eventually dubbed Chinatown. They opened small eating places that captivated limeños -yet only after the initial distrust was overcome. Chinese, who were mostly from the Canton region, introduced new frying techniques and ingredients like soy or ginger. Peruvian classic lomo saltado is possibly where their influence is most evident.

Paradoxically, when Japanese immigrants began to arrive at the turn of the century -also to work on plantations-, limeños looked down on fish and seafood. Meat, they believed, was more refined. By the 1950s nisei cooks had eradicated this prejudice. Their restaurants served delightful fish and seafood dishes that few could resist. Indeed, it was their subtle culinary touch to recreate ceviche and tiradito as we know them today.

Typical Peruvian Dishes...


Lima & Central Coast


Ceviche: raw fish filet cut into pieces and marinated in lemon juice, onions, and aji limo. Served with sweet potato, corn & lettuce


Chupe de Camarones: Shrimp soup made with milk, eggs, and oregano.


Anticuchos de Corazon: grilled brochettes of beef heart, macerated in vinegar and aji panca (hot pepper).


Tamales/Humitas: Mashed corn filled with seasoned beef, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed.
Ají de Gallina: a chicken stew made with cream, cheese, aji (hot pepper), and peanuts. Served with boiled potatoes, olives and lettuce.
Lomo Saltado: beef tenderloin slices, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, aji (hot peppers), and other spices. It is served with French fries and rice.

Sancochado: boiled beef with corn, sweet potato, carrots, cabbage, yucca, and potatoes.

Causa: mashed yellow potatoes seasoned with lime and aji (hot pepper), and filled with tuna or chicken.

Carapulcra: Dehydrated potatoes, boiled and cooked with pork and chicken, aji panca and mirasol (chili peppers), garlic, and other spices.


Chicharrones: pork rinds fried in their own fat and accompanied with corn, roast potatoes, onions and mint


Cau-cau: cow stomach (tripe) stew with potatoes, turmeric, and parsley. Sometimes served with peas.

Tacu-tacu: Mixture of beans and rice, fried, and topped with breaded and pan-fried steak and an onion sauce.

Escabeche: pieces of fish or chicken marinated in vinegar and steamed with plenty of onions and often other vegetables


Rocoto Relleno: rocoto (hot pepper) without veins stuffed with chopped beef, eggs, peas, carrots, cheese, milk, and potatoes.


Pachamanca: different meats, potatoes, corn, lima beans and humitas (sweet tamales) cooked in a pit lined with heated stones in a pre-Hispanic style.


Chairo: Beef and lamb soup with potatoes, lima beans, squash, cabbage, chuño or dehydrated potatoes, wheat, and chalona or dried lamb.


Ocopa: boiled potatoes covered with a fresh cheese sauce, lima beans, onions, olives, and rocoto.

Adobo: pork marinated in chicha (corn beer) and spices, cooked in a clay pot.


Locro de Zapallo: mashed squash with corn, cheese, yellow potatoes and huacatay.

Soltero de Queso: a salad of fresh cheese, lima beans, onions, olives, tomatoes, and rocoto.

Cuy con papas: Seasoned, cooked, and fried Guinea pig served with a potato stew, toasted peanuts, chopped onions and hot peppers.

Picante de cuy: barbecued guinea pig stew, seasoned with aji colorado or amarillo (hot peppers). There is an old variation called jaka cashqui or guinea pig broth.

Cuy relleno: Guinea pig stuffed with parsley, black mint, mint, oregano, green onions, cleaned and boiled innards, and crushed toasted peanuts.

Pepian de Cuy: stew made with Guinea pig meat, peanuts, and spices.

Cuy chactado: Guinea pig, breaded with corn flour and fried and served with golden potatoes and salad.


Choclo con queso: Boiled tender corn accompanies by fresh cheese.