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10 dishes you must try in Peru during your study abroad

 

It is not surprising anymore that Peruvian food is one of the best in the world that you might have heard already from other students or young professionals that they have come back home from their semester abroad in Lima happily, but with some kilos extra in their body. To blame; the delicious Peruvian food.

Incredibly, the Peruvian food has been named the world’s leading culinary destination eight times in a row. That’s like winning the football (soccer) world cup eight times in a row. Yes, we do Peruvians feel like football world champions with our food. It is our most precious treasure and do not dare to say otherwise.

There are infinite delicious dishes coming from the Peruvian coast, highlands and rainforest, and each one has unique flavors and tastes. Lima as the capital of Peru, is the hub for all the different cuisines. The city of kings is so “Peruvian” diverse as people from all over Peru escaped from terrorism back in the 80’s and placed roots in the capital, bringing  with them their delicious food dishes. Therefore, you will be very lucky if you do a semester abroad in Lima!

We have selected only 10 dishes for the sake of keeping this article as short as possible, so please do not feel betrayed if you (student that have already lived in Lima) don’t find you favorite Peruvian dish. It is nothing personal!

 

1.Picante de Cuy (Spicy Guinea Pig)

How could you eat your pet!? This is a very common expression Peruvians heard from Europeans or Americans. However, remember that we are international and open-minded citizens, and we have to understand that Peruvians do not see guinea pig as pets. They breed them for eating purposes since guinea pigs have nutritious proteins. In fact, breeding and eating guinea pigs have been a Peruvian tradition since the Inca times. From where did you think the Incas got all the protein strength to carry stones and build Machu Picchu?

One of the varieties of the guinea pig dishes is Picante de cuy, a dish with origins in the highlands. The sauce it’s not spicy (only spicy flavor), but it does use certain chillies for the preparation. You can eat it with rice or no rice and potatoes. The meat of the guinea pig is soft with a succulent texture; a complete delicacy.

 

2.Ceviche

The national dish by excellence. The Peruvian coast has been blessed with a variety of fresh fish to enjoy a great ceviche. Seems like a simple dish to cook; Peruvian lemons, chili, red onion, fish, onion and coriander. However, it is not easy to prepared it as all the ingredients have to be on point and with the right amounts- so it is up to the cook’s skills. There are different kind of ceviches throughout all Peru, but for us the best ceviche is from Lima and all the cities up north with a special mention of Chiclayo and Piura. It’s a sin to miss this dish if you are in Peru!

 

3.Ají de Gallina (Spicy Cream Chicken)

A Peruvian classic, cooked with the unique Peruvian yellow chili pepper that makes the dish slightly spicy and the sauce bright yellow. This piece of gem is traditionally server over rice with boiled yellow potatoes, black olives and a boiled egg. Despite it looks, it is one of the most delicious Peruvian dishes we have tried.

 

4.Arroz con Pato

Duck with green rice has its origins in the north of Peru; Chiclayo – a city with amazing food. The cilantro leaves makes the dish aromatic and the use of dark beer in the preparation is essential to get that special tasty flavor. The green rice is used for different menu dishes all over Lima, specially in the more common dish arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) so don’t mistake the arroz con pollo with arroz con pato. You will find this dish delicious!

 

5. Juane de Gallina

Juane de Gallina is one of the flagship dishes of the Peruvian Rainforest. The preparation is simple, but the flavor is exquisite. It mostly has rice and chicken, and some boiled eggs and black olives. It also contains herbs, spices, chopped onion and garlic. All of these are covered with bijao leaves ( a plant found in the rainforest) so the dish gets the special exotic aroma.

You can find this dish in Lima, but if you get the chance to go to the Peruvian Rainforest it is a must try. It is very likely that you will end up not having enough of it!

6. Lomo Saltado

Probably the most popular dish for the international students in Lima, lomo saltado is a classic in Peruvian’s tables. The dish has influences from the Chinese stir-fry and comes with tender strips of beef marinated in soy sauce, cilantro, famous Peruvian ají (chili) amarillo, pepper, red onion, white wine vinegar, fried potato and of course white rice.

All these ingredients, except for the fried potato and rice, are stir fried in a pan. Once you try it, you will want more!

 

7. Pachamanca

Pachamanca is a traditional and ancestral dish from the Peruvian Andes. On the meat side, the dish is usually made of chicken, guinea pig, alpaca, pork marinated in herbs and spices. Pachamanca also includes potato, habas (green lima beans), yuca, sweet potato, cassava and humitas (corn cakes).

The preparation starts by digging a hole in a earth-soft ground surface. Locals do it in their house garden. Then you place stones around the hole and heat them over a fire. Once the stones are hot, you place the meat and the rest on top of the stones. Lastly, you cover the hole with grass and wait for around two hours to cook.

 

8. Causa

What would be the most representative dish honoring the more than 4,000 types of potato that Peru has? Causa for sure.

You will find this simple, but delicious dish all over Peru in countless variations. The dish varies basically in what’s mix with the yellow potato mash layers and the blended mayonnaise . It can be chicken, tuna, crab, shrimp, etc. This dish is usually served as a cake roll so it is is considered an entry dish.

Some would also add avocado to the layers of potato and hard boiled eggs and black olive at the top. Causa is always served cold, and Peruvians love to put lime and chili to it so they can get that extra spicy flavor.

 

9. Rocoto Relleno

Rocoto Relleno is the most representative dish from Arequipa, a beautiful state and city south of Peru known for its colonial white houses and its delicious food.

In fact, rocoto is a kind of Peruvian chili so this dish might be a bit spicy. Cooks would take off all the nerves and seeds which are the most spicy parts of the rocoto and keep the shell to put at the bottom of it the beef, garlic, raisins, garlic, olives, onions, spices and herbs, and  at the top the queso fresco and an egg-with-milk custard to then bake it all together. To the side of the rocoto you will get pastel de papa which is made of queso, potato, eggs, milk and butter.

 

10. Pollo a la Brasa (Rotisserie chicken)

The most consume dish among the Peruvian population. Peruvians are so passionate about this food that there is no corner in a neighborhood that you will not find a “Polleria”- a restaurant dedicated to served Pollo a la Brasa.

Pollo a la Brasa was invented in the 1950’s and it is prepare by marinating a whole chicken with herbs, spices and garlic and then spin roast it over charcoal. The skin gets a crispy flavor and the meat a juicy exotic flavor. On the side, you get salad, french fries, and a special spicy sauce to pour it into the chicken or the french fries.

If you do a semester abroad in Lima, don’t worry that you will miss this dish, because it is everywhere!

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