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A Guide to the Food of Peru


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Peruvian cuisine is said to be a varied combination of flavors from around the world. This is largely due to heavy influences from the immigrant population that consists of Spanish, Basque, African, Sino-Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British settlers in addition to the influence of Peru's Inca heritage. As a result, the list of dishes is seemingly endless with over 2,000 varieties of soup in the coastal region alone and more than 250 traditional Peruvian desserts.

Peru is a center for several varieties of maize (or corn), tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, fish, and fruit. One of the basic ingredients of Peruvian food is the aji pepper, which is used as a spice. Not all Peruvian chili peppers are spicy; some are used specifically to add color to certain dishes. Most Peruvian food is accompanied by rice. In Lima, Creole cuisine is the most popular, but Chinese food (or Chifa) and Italian are also largely included.

Some of the coastal cities in Peru produce a type of bread that is baked in a stone and wood burned oven, which is indicative of that produced in the Andes. They call it “bollos. " Street vendors serve up little brochettes of spicy grilled beef heart, accompanied by boiled potatoes and corn. Tamales (corn with meat or cheese and wrapped in a banana leaf) are also often sold by street vendors along with lima or salsa criolla. These are similar to humitas, which is a mixture of corn, spices, sugar, onions, pork, and olives, wrapped in the leaves of corn husks. Butifarras are sandwiches with Peruvian ham a sauce of onions, chili peppers, lime, and oil.

In restaurants, a common favorite is Papas a la huancaína, which includes boiled potatoes on lettuce served with a mildly spicy cheese sauce with olives. Another favorite is the Peruvian fusion dish Cebiche. It combines Andean chili peppers with onion and a special Spanish lime, all of which are used to marinate small pieces of white fish (or mango if you're making the Callao variation). It is usually served with raw onions, boiled sweet potatoes, toasted corn, and occasionally, with a type of green seaweed. The spicy juice produced from this creation is called leche de tigre (or tiger's milk). It is often used as a reconstituent. Cebiche differs from Mexico and Ecuador since it does not include tomatoes and differs from Tahiti since it does not use coconut milk.

Many restaurants serve lomo saltado, which is sliced beef fried with onion, tomato, soy sauce, vinegar, aji peppers, served with French fries and rice. Another staple of Peruvian food are Lima butter beans. A salad is made with the boiled beans and a combination of onions, tomatoes, green aji peppers, green Peruvian lime juice, oil, salt, and vinegar.

This is just a small sampling of dishes commonly found in Peru. When sampling the region's cuisine, you will have a vast variety at hand and will likely never need to try exactly the same thing twice.

Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Peru holiday accommodation and Vacation accommodation worldwide .

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