Local Specialties & Deliciacies Travelers Should Sample
While quinoa and ceviche may have made their way onto every American food menu, there’s still plenty of authentic Peruvian specialties to discover when you’re in-country. So as you make your way along the Hiram Bingham trail from the jungle floor to Machu Picchu, here are some dishes we recommend you sample along the way.
Image: Peruvian cuy, guinea pig, with all the fixin's; Image: Anthony Tong Lee, Flickr
Cuy (The Other White Meat) -- There’s no way to hide what this staple meat really is: guinea pig. The meat is served baked or over a barbecue spit -- usually with the head on! However, as unpleasant as it sounds, cuy actually tastes a lot like rabbit or wild game fowl.
One Potato, Two Potato -- Here in Peru you’ll find more varieties of potato than anywhere else on the planet. While you’ll certainly enjoy them prepared almost any way they come, a favorite dish is causa. This specialty takes the tuber and pairs it with avocado into a casserole which is sliced and served cold for a quick-bite meal.
Anticuchos, or Meat on a Stick -- Much like shish kebabs, anticuchos are skewers of grilled, marinated meat. You’ll find them everywhere from fine restaurants to streetside vendors. The best are made with beef heart, a tradition that is traced back to the days when the Spanish conquerors would take the choicest cuts and leave the organs for their slaves.
Alpaca: More than just a sweater -- Before you turn your nose up, this Andean Highlands camelid has been a protein source for centuries. It’s similar in taste to other grass-fed meats, but somewhat gamier and leaner than beef -- much like buffalo.
Lucuma for Your Sweet Tooth -- While Peruvians love their spicy meat dishes, they also have a sweet tooth as well. One of the favorite treats is lucuma, a tree fruit that looks a bit like a mango. This custard-like fruit makes a simple syrup similar to maple that is used to flavor desserts and ice cream.
If that’s not enough to keep you satisfied in the Andes, try some Pollo a la Brasa, a Peruvian-style roast chicken, or Lomo Saltado, a brilliant culinary collaboration of the country’s Chinese immigrant population. Both dishes are readily available and hearty sustenance should you decide to take Hiram’s trek rather than the train.
For information on Travcoa's journeys to Peru, call your Travel Agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to check out our private tours and small-group luxury tours to Peru.