Would it be too bold a claim that Peru is becoming as famous for its food scene as its Incan heritage? For the seventh year in a row, December saw Peru win ‘Best Culinary Destination’ in the world at the World Travel Awards.
Two Lima restaurants also sat comfortably amid the top 10 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2018.
While ceviche and potatoes may dominate what you think of Peruvian cuisine (the country has over 2500 different spud varieties), there are many strings to its culinary bow.
Blend it up
The food gods have gifted Peru with natural, healthy ingredients which are reflective of their origin; seafood from the coast, potatoes and legumes from the mountains and exotic Amazonian fruits and vegetables from the jungle.
This bounty of interesting fare – plus cultural influences from the Amazon, Andes, African slave history, and Italian, French, Chinese and Japanese immigrants – has culminated in a cuisine which traverses the spectrum of traditional to modern via hearty slow cooked meats and vegetables (pachamanca), and Japanese Peruvian fusions.
We are a world obsessed with superfoods and Peru is way ahead of the game in this realm; the Andean lucuma fruit, known as the ‘Gold of the Inca’s,’ is full of antioxidants and vitamin B; the camu camu berry has inflammation fighting properties; and purple corn, which has been cultivated for centuries, is served as chica morada – a sweet and vibrant drink known for decreasing blood sugar.
Gaston Acurio, co-founder of Lima’s world-acclaimed Astrid y Gaston, is the notable figure in the proliferation of Peruvian cuisine. Like many renowned chefs, his style started in France but he wanted to highlight his country’s unique ingredients, techniques and recipes by incorporating them into his art. His influence over the past two decades has propelled Peruvian gastronomy into the world class sphere it occupies today.
Being the proud home of some of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants like Central, Maido and Astrid y Gaston, has resulted in the transformation of Lima. No longer just an obligatory stop off en route to Cusco, the starting point of the Inca trail, Peru’s capital has soothed its messy reputation of traffic jams and crime with these more palatable experiences.
Chimu’s A Taste of Peru itinerary introduces travellers to Peru’s coastal and Andean cuisine via Lima and Cusco. Experience Astrid Y Gaston where Peking-style guinea pig bao is a menu highlight. Opt to stay in Chimu’s boutique hotel in Lima’s Barranco district, Casa Republica, where you are also just a 15 minute walk from Central, the world’s current number six restaurant, which maximises the use of Peruvian ingredients. Piranha anyone?
Climbing from the coast to the Andean city of Cusco involves a visit to San Pedro, a local market where you will smell and taste local ingredients such as chocolate, coffee and aji pepper before diving into the kitchen for a traditional cooking class.
And what to drink with Peruvian cuisine? A Peruvian Pisco Sour of course. Chimu’s Destination Specialists have travelled Peru widely, consuming a couple of Piscos along the way, so can create a bespoke foodie itinerary for you.
To discover more of Peru with Chimu Adventures, visit the website here.
Written by Frances Armitage at Chimu Adventures.