Five years ago, you probably didn't know how to pronounce quinoa, but now, this Peruvian export is poised to take over the palates and nutritional good intentions of culinary aficionados the world over. Peru's cuisine, hailed for its native eccentricities and international sensibility, is highlighted by more than just this simple grain. The combination of local ingredients and painstaking, individualistic preparation earmarks many of Peru's most celebrated dishes. From the humble to the divine, here are some you must try.
Considered Peru's national dish, this delectable meal is prepared in a multitude of ways, but is typically comprised of simple ingredients. Requiring no heat to cook, a fresh, white variety of fish is cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated until done in lime juice, to which onions, salt and Peruvian chili peppers are added. Inspired by Peru's coastal region and the wide availability of delectable varieties of fish, ceviche's roots may extend back 2,000 years to the ancient South American Moche culture. The dish was also influenced by the early Spaniards who first brought limes to Peru.
Peruvian sandwiches come with many names, flavors and nuances. Called everything from sánduche to sánguich, sandwich, and everything in between, these easily portable, gastronomic delights are a staple of the Peruvian diet and enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, snack-time and dinner. Sángucherias, or sandwich shops, abound throughout Peru and each seems to have a signature sandwich, reflecting the local geography and biodiversity of the area. Peruvian sandwiches are typically earmarked by flavor and texture combinations as complex and intricate as Peru itself
Inchicapi (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Peru's three distinct geographic regions each boast a variety of soups, many of which are comprised of indigenous vegetables. It is thought that over 2,000 soups grace Peruvian tables from the Andes Mountains down to the coastline. This melt-in-your-mouth chowder originated in the San Martin, Ucayali and Loreto regions of the Amazon Jungle. Yuca, cilantro and creamy-white chocio, an ancient variety of white corn, are joined together with chicken, roasted peanuts, onion and garlic to create this comfort food staple.
These Peruvian sweet potato and squash fritters have roots in Spanish Colonial times and are thought to have originated with the African slave population of that time. Varieties of this yeasty, almost donut-shaped delicacy can be found in most five-star restaurants throughout the country, but some of the best to be found are sold deep-fried style, by local street vendors who dip them in cane syrup before serving.
A type of brandy, Pisco is Peru's national drink and is made from distilled grapes grown in the country's Ica region. Originating in Lima during the 1920s, the Pisco Sour is currently the most popular version of this slightly tequila-tasting beverage. With Pisco as its main note, the delectable drink is often used to welcome guests at hotels and relies on lime juice, Angostura bitters, egg white and syrup added to the base ingredient. In true Peru fashion, this quintessentially South American drink has international influences and is thought to have originated with Victor Vaughen Morris, an American expat bartender
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