Peruvian food is well-known for being outstanding, and the Cusco region is no exception. One can find all kinds of international cuisine at numerous restaurants in the city. However, many travelers smartly opt for experiencing traditional Andean cuisine .
Exceptional and delicious food
Here are seven (and more!) traditional foods that Peruvians, and especially Andean people, just love to eat. Although many traditional dishes are meat-based, excellent vegetarian specialties are also easily found.
The choice of traditional vegetables is diverse and amazing. Peru has many varieties of potatoes, as well as great corn, quinoa and sweet potatoes!
Vegetarians need not worry! You will find superb potato dishes, such as papa a la huancaina, covered with a creamy sauce, and causa, a delicious appetizer of mashed potato and lime (sometimes filled with chicken or fish).
The corn (choclo) is large and not as sweet as other varieties, but much heartier, and often accompanied by a slice of Andean cheese. A bowl of quinoa soup is incomparable for beating the nighttime cold.
Sweet potatoes (camote) are a side vegetable with many dishes, and don’t miss trying fava beans (habas), either steamed or as fried snacks.
From the andean rivers to your plate
Trout is the fish of the Andes, and a great choice for healthy, light meal. Trucha is sustainably raised in Andean lakes and hatcheries, and is available at most good restaurants in Cusco’s downtown.
Try it fried, or steamed and topped with onions, and accompanied by excellent Andean potatoes and vegetables.
It’s occasionally made as ceviche, and of course, ceviche made with ocean fish is served at many seafood restaurants.
Remember- ceviche, our national dish, is Peruvian, no matter what our friends in neighboring countries might say.
For the meat lovers
For pork aficionados, chicharrón is a must. Chunks of pork are first boiled to remove most of the fat, then deep friend until crispy on the outside and tender white inside.
It’s served with thick slices of corn and sweet potato, and marinated onions. If that doesn’t temp your taste buds, well, what will?
You’ll find restaurants specializing in chicharrón on Pampa del Castillo Street, a block from the Plaza de Armas along Loreto alleyway, near the Coricancha.
It’s also found at many restaurants in the town of Saylla, a half-hour south of Cusco, where chicharrón is the town’s landmark dish.
Lomo saltado is a beef lover’s dream. Slices of beef are marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and herbs, and sautéed with thick slices of onion, tomato and Peru’s mild but very tasty yellow hot peppers.
The combination of meat, vegetables and sauce is just delectable, and the dish is a favorite all over Peru. White rice accompanies to soak up the juices. Mmmm, mouth-watering!
A good alternative to beef is alpaca, which is cooked and served in a number of ways. Alpaca steak is lower in fat and often tastier than beef. It’s raised organically and free-roaming; a sustainable food since pre-Inca times.
Only for the ones who dare
A choice for more adventurous foodies, cuy, or guinea pig , is an Andean favorite. It’s prepared in several ways; roasted over open flames (cuy chactado) is locally recommended.
Cuy meat, though not abundant, is quite tasty, and many Andeans consider cuy better than chicken. It’s up to you to try it, but if served whole, don’t be put off by its looks, just go ahead and taste it.
Finally, pachamanca has it all- it is the signature feast of Peru’s Andean region. Cooked for a few hours underground in a hole lined with hot rocks, it combines chicken, pork, beef, with corn, potatoes, fava beans and more. The cooking method, with native herbs and spices, make pachamanca so tender and perfectly delicious!
Are you hungry yet? Well, foodies, save your appetites for your exciting and culturally amazing trip to Peru, where you can try all these traditional treats, and much more.
And remember, on your trek to Ausangate, healthy, hearty food cooked by our professional chefs is always served at our four outstanding ecolodges! Contact us at andeanlodges.com to find out more.
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