Published on September 27th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut

Tasty Travel: Top 5 Foods to Savor in Peru


With the recent international hype and the conclusion of Peru’s famous Mistura food festival, it seems only fitting to dedicate a few moments to Peru’s culinary delights. Earlier this year, the country’s diverse and prized cuisine won a Cultural Patrimony of the Americas award from the Organization of American States (OAS). During the award ceremony, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza stated that “Cuisine is not just the sum of flavors and products; it is the reflection of the relationship that is born between human beings and their environment; between a person and his land, his history, his geography, his people; it is a reflection of the ties that individuals create with the fruits, colors, and customs of their land.”

With this in mind, here are five purely Peruvian dishes to try during a trip to Peru. Whether it highlights the tropical tastes of the jungle or the fresh taste of the sea, each dish tells a tale that is truly Peru. 

1. Pachamanca. A remarkable hodgepodge of meats, vegetables, and herbs, pachamanca is typically made in the mountainous regions of Peru. A pile of heated stones is placed in a hole in the earth and then meats and other ingredients, wrapped in banana leaves, are placed upon the stones and covered. Originally made and eaten by the Incas, this dish is a delicious smoky blend typically served with a tamale. 

2. Ceviche. Perhaps the most famous Peruvian dish, ceviche is a popular plate in Lima and along the coast. The dish consists of raw white fish marinated in lime juice and seasoned with red onion and aji, and typically served alongside choclo (large kernelled corn) and camote (sweet potato).

3. Papa a la Huancaína. This simple side dish draws on two popular Peruvian basics: the potato and Huancaína sauce. Peru is the center of origin for the potato, meaning it is where potatoes first appeared and were cultivated. The result is thousands of potato varieties that make up a major staple of the Peruvian diet. In this dish, thin slices of yellow potato are coated with a creamy and slightly spicy cheese sauce, typically served cold and garnished with a sliced boiled egg or olives. 

4. Quinoa Soup. Quinua is a chenopod that has extremely healthy seeds that look like, and are often mistaken for, grain. Indigenous to the Andean region, these seeds are packed with proteins and other nutrients, and although it’s been consumed locally for centuries, quinua has only recently caught on internationally as a health food. Quinoa soup is a delicious mixture of quinua, white cheese, and vegetables (usually carrots and lima beans).

5. Lomo Saltado. This classic dish is found throughout the country and is a good example of Peruvian fusion food. Similar to a stir fry, the dish includes strips of beef mixed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and chili served over a heaping portion of French fries. Vegetarians will be happy to note that in tourist-friendly cities, veggie versions of this dish are readily available. 

This is a guest article sponsored by SA Luxury Expeditions, which specializes in South America tours and Machu Picchu tours.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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