Food and Drink in Peru
| TYPICAL FOOD AND BEVERAGES
Peru’s criolla cuisine evolved through the blending of native
and European cultures. A la criolla is the term used to describe slightly
spiced dishes such as sopa a la criolla, a wholesome soup containing
beef, noodles, milk and vegetables.
Throughout the extensive coastal region, seafood plays a dominant role
in the Creole diet. The most famous Peruvian dish, ceviche, is raw fish
or shrimp marinated in lemon juice and traditionally accompanied by corn
and sweet potato. Other Southern American countries have their own version
of ceviche, but many foreigners consider Peru’s to be the best. Corvina is sea bass, most simply cooked a la plancha, while scallops
(conchitas) and mussels (choros) might be served a lo macho, in shellfish
sauce. Chupe de camarones is a thick and tasty soup of salt or freshwater
A popular appetizer is palta a la jardinera, avocado stuffed with a
cold vegetable salad or palta a la reina, stuffed with chicken salad.
Choclo is corn on the cob, often sold by street vendors at lunchtime. Other
Peruvian “fast food” includes anticuchos, shish kebabs of
marinated beef heart and picarones, sweet lumps of deep fried batter
served with molasses. For almuerzo, or lunch, the main meal of the day,
one of four courses might be lomo saltado, a stir-fried beef dish, or
aji de gallina, chicken in a creamy spiced sauce.
Peruvian sweets include suspiro de limeña or manjar
made from sweetened condensed milk or the ever-popular ice cream and
cakes. There are many weird and wonderful fruits available in Peru, notably
chirimoya (custard apple), lúcuma, a nut-like fruit, delicious
with ice cream and tuna, which is actually the flesh from a type of cactus.
Peru’s national drink is pisco sour, which consists of grape brandy,
lemon, egg white and a dash of cinnamon. In many towns, the soft drink
chicha morada, made with purple maize, is popular. Anther local soft
drink, Inka Cola, is also popular. The inexpensive beers are of high
quality. Try Cusqueña, Cristal or Arequipeña. Peruvian
wines can’t compete with Chilean quality, but for a price, Tabernero,
Tacama, Ocucaje and Vista Alegre are the reliable names.