Today Peruvian Cuisine preserves much of the legacy left by those who inhabited the empire prior to the conquest and the set of dishes that emerged after it. If not totally, yes in part thanks to the assimilation of new techniques and new ingredients, old preparations still survive today, especially in the most rural areas of the country. It is the wealth that we have not stopped talking about, the heritage that gives Peru luster and made Lima, within the framework of the Madrid Fusión 2006 summit, the gastronomic capital of America. Food is another flag of Peruvians, from the most traditional recipes to the cuisine practiced in the best restaurants, driving forces of innovation and avant-garde through haute cuisine.
One of the most popular dishes today, surely the one most consumed in the country, is grilled chicken. Basically we are talking about a roast chicken, similar to the one consumed in other parts of the planet, using coal, firewood or gas as fuel and some kind of tool that makes it rotate in front of the heat source. In this case, in Peru, the gutted chicken is macerated with different herbs and spices, being served with fried potatoes, salads, sauces such as chili or even fried plantain. Presenting this companion is common in the country’s jungle, thus renouncing potatoes. The recipe is also considered a “Culinary Specialty of Peru” by the National Institute of Culture.
Origins of Peruvian cuisine
The diversity of Peruvian Cuisine finds its reason for being, above all, in another diversity: that of its geography. Throughout its territory, especially around the Andes mountain range, there are a good number of altitudes where fruits, vegetables and a variety of vegetables are grown. These differences in height above sea level mean that there are various types of microclimates in the country and, with them, lands that can cultivate a wide range of raw materials.
Besides its proximity to the geographical equator, its coastline on the Pacific Ocean is added to the particularity of its altitudinal floors. Its cold waters and the currents of this great body of water are the ideal habitat for a good number of varieties of shellfish and fish that make Peru one of the main fishing countries in the world. Both determining factors, the main and essential ones, are responsible for the fact that from the beginning this vast territory has been remarkably rich gastronomically speaking.
In the ancient world, the central Peruvian Andes were one of the epicenters of plant domestication. From them come some species that are universal today, such as tomatoes, squash, custard apples, potatoes and their many varieties, corn … and others that are not so universal, but cannot be missing in influenced kitchens. for Latin American flavors, such as peanuts, cassava, avocado, beans, sweet potato, cassava or quinoa, which are currently very popular. All of them still present in its gastronomy.
Yet another diversity, that of the cultures that made up the Inca Empire, prior to the arrival of the Spanish, also shaped the future of the history of Peruvian cuisine and its current present. Although they shared common elements, similar practices when cooking, such as using, for example, condiments such as cocha yuyo, salt or the famous chili pepper, today more than essential as a distinctive feature, or dehydrating many foods thus avoiding their decomposition, each one of the towns had their own dishes and customs that normally only they possessed. A heritage complex that unfortunately we are partially aware of.
The diet that the majority had was based on the consumption of large quantities of the abundant fish and shellfish present on its coasts, vegetables of the many that they cultivated throughout its history and the intake of some meats, such as ducks, domestic camelids like the llama, deer or even some kind of lizard, especially on the north coast of the country. All these raw materials could be served in the form of soups, stews such as carapulca, which is considered the oldest in Peru, the fish could be salted, grains such as corn were also roasted and they were used from clay pots to natural earth ovens to cook. Also, in this pre-colonial period, different types of beer made from abundant corn and cassava were consumed.
With the arrival of the Spanish and the establishment of the Viceroyalty of Peru, as happened in other territories conquered by the Spanish Empire, different uses and customs were incorporated into the local cuisine, blending, mixing, without taking the limelight and simply, in the majority of the cases, enriching itself at the same time that it was expanded and complemented. Today, for example, many would not understand ceviche without the Peruvian lemon, and this citrus fruit is the result of the introduction of the lime from Europe and its evolution to the local variety, of an intense green color, small size and high acidity. Equally decisive was the arrival of sugar to those lands, the construction of convents and the abundance of fruits in the environment, which led to the emergence of a prosperous pastry tradition, common to other Hispanic countries, where sweets such as manna or el caramel cookie.
Before finishing with the origins of Peruvian Cuisine, the dawn of today’s cuisine, we cannot forget the influences coming from other corners of the globe. In the first place, those that came from the hand of the African slaves sent by the Spaniards and have given rise to many specialties of Creole cuisine, such as the famous anticuchos, rachi, sweetbreads or tacu-tacu, a recipe this last prepared by the black slaves with the leftover food. And secondly, those that arrived after achieving independence in 1821. The introduction of rice, bittersweet flavors and sauteed flavors in the middle of the 19th century due to the migration of Chinese, especially inhabitants of the province of Canton, stands out. Also the legacy left by another Asian immigration, the Japanese, at the end of that same nineteenth century, combined cutting techniques and careful presentations to Peruvian customs, resulting in hybrid dishes such as tiradito, the result of the cross between sashimi and ceviche. Without forgetting the Italians, who also in the middle of the 19th century, almost at the same time as the Cantonese Chinese, brought the use of pasta to Peru, with the birth of green or red noodles, and the preparation of typical desserts such as panettone, currently an essential in Peruvian Christmas.
Perú Food Facts
Here we mention the main Perú Food Facts you should know:
- Peruvian cuisine is one of the richest and most diverse in the world. Peru has the largest number of dishes in the world with 491 different stews (Guinness).
- This variety is due to several factors:
- The great diversity of its geography (coastal desert, the Andes and the Amazon) and its 28 climates.
- The gastronomic tradition of ancient cultures (Inca and pre-Inca), providing the basis for many modern cuisine dishes.
- The mixture of races and cultures with Spanish and Arab influences (conquest time), African (with slaves), French (during the revolution) and from the 19th century, from European countries, China, Japan, Italy and others.
- Since the 1980s, Peruvian chefs have developed “novo Andean” cuisine, culinary and artistic creations such as the French one, with the particularity of using traditional ingredients from all regions of the country.
Peruvian Food List
Peruvian Food List from the Coast
The coastal cuisine is divided into marine and Creole food. The best-known dishes are made based on seafood or fish. The most representative dishes of marine food are shrimp chupe (Arequipa), ceviche, choritos a la chalaca (Callao), tiradito, leche de tigre, leche de tigre, stretcher and others.
Ceviche: Ceviche consists of a combination of fresh fish and seafood marinated in lemon juice.
As for Creole food, we have ají de gallina, carapulca, chicken escabeche, arroz con pollo, tacu-tacu, rice with duck, cau cau, lomo saltado, grilled chicken, causa a la Lima, anticuchos, among others.
Lomo saltado: The lomo saltado was born thanks to the fusion of Peruvian cuisine with oriental Chinese cuisine and consists of pieces of meat fried with onion and tomato.
Peruvian Food List from the Andes
The food of the mountains has as its main ingredients corn, potatoes and other tubers. Some of the most representative dishes of Andean cuisine are pachamanca, huatia, potato a la huancaína, ocopa and others.
Pachamanca: It is a typical dish of Peru, made by cooking beef, pork, chicken and guinea pig, as well as other inputs, under the heat of the stones that are heated by the burning of logs.
Papa a la huancaína: The dish consists of boiled potatoes covered with a cream cheese, oil, salt, yellow pepper and milk to give it consistency.
Peruvian Food List from the Jungle
The cuisine of the jungle is characterized by the traditional consumption of meats such as huangana, suri, tapir, rodents, armadillo, turtles, woolly monkeys and others.
The most popular dishes of the Peruvian jungle cuisine are the juanes, the tacacho with cecina, inchicapi, the patarashca, the chonta salad, among others.
Juane: Juane is made from rice, chicken meat, olives, boiled egg, among other spices that are wrapped in the bijao leaf and boiled for an hour and a half.
Tacacho with jerky: The dish consists of a mass of banana, pork, butter and salt called tacacho along with a piece of jerky and a piece of chorizo.
Mistura, held in the city of Lima, has established itself in a few years as the most important gastronomic fair in Latin America and acquires growing international notoriety. And it is not only a food festival, but much more, It is a party where Peruvians of various social sectors, ages, gender gather without social distinctions around our pots and stoves to celebrate our culinary tradition, surprise ourselves with our creativity, reaffirm our identity and celebrate our cultural diversity. In Peru throughout the centuries food has been associated with the Fiesta. It is on the occasion of the patron saint festivities, Inti Raymi, San Juan, Cruz de Motupe, Señor Cautivo, Christmas, Easter and family celebrations (weddings, birthdays, baptisms) that the best dishes have been prepared using techniques and recipes that our peas and Cooks have passed down from generation to generation. In the festivals and in the traditional picanterías, food has gone hand in hand with music and social fraternization among Peruvians of different strata. This is the spirit that predominates in Mistura.
The fair brings together the various actors in the Peruvian gastronomic chain: small farmers, pisco producers, cooks, bakers, food vendors, sweet shops, huariques, restaurants, cooking institutes, food processing companies.
At Mistura we pay a special tribute to our mother earth. Nature has been lavish with Peru. Throughout its 7 thousand years of history, our homeland continues to offer one of the most fascinating pantries on the planet. And part of that wealth is due to the Peruvian man. To the respectful dialogue that she established with the pacha mama, with its 85 geographical and climatic environments. That has been the magic formula to have that variety of products that today Mistura gathers in the Great Market and they are a fundamental part of Peruvian gastronomy and world food.
The richness of our gastronomy is based on history and the confluence of particular culinary styles and supplies from the different regions of Peru. To this is added in the last 5 centuries the contribution of European, Arab, African, Chinese, and Japanese flavors. Peruvians have decided to tell the world how proud we are of our cuisine. But, above all, we want to share the values that mark our path: tolerance, respect, commitment to the environment and social responsibility. We seek that the kitchen is not an end, but a means and becomes an instrument of inclusive development, cultural identity, development and social integration.
Touring Peru is discovering endless mysterious places, with hidden stories in corners that you may have never seen before stepping on this country. We recommend you to visit another impressive destinations in Cusco like the tour to rainbow mountain peru or the humantay lake tour from cusco, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Perú, other archaeological places you can know will be the choquequirao trek peru, the salkantay trek to machu picchu, and the classic inca trail 4 days 3 nights.