For four consecutive years, Perú has been named the Best Culinary Destination in the World, which is just one more reason I am feeling blessed to be serving in this country. In Perú, food is love. Even when neighbors do not have much to offer, I am always invited to sit down and share in a meal and a conversation with my fellow Chacasinos. And while I am not eating at Perú’s best restaurants on a daily basis, I am getting to experience the gastronomic culture of Perú each and every day.
Peace Corps tells us that in Perú, the guys typically lose weight while the girls typically gain weight. This is not shocking to me, considering I eat more carbohydrates in a day than I ate in a week in the United States. Most of my friends at home know I got very into the Whole 30 way of life and even dropped 30 lbs before starting my Peruvian adventure. Well, I’m doing my best to keep that off, but rice and potatoes every day is a drastic change from my US lifestyle of just meat and vegetables, so if I come home weighing a bit more, it’s only because I was loving the culture and happily sharing in the gastronomic experience of life in Perú- so, don’t judge, gentle reader. Instead, know that integrating into this culture means arroz y papas on the daily.
So, below are some of my favorite mouthwatering typical foods of Perú:
Everywhere I go, I have made it a rule to try the ceviche. I’ve had it by the beach in the coast and I’ve had it way up in the mountains of the sierras. With my host family, I eat it every single Sunday since it is a favorite amongst my host brothers. So far, I would have to say Huanchaco in La Libertad holds 1st place for me, but I still have a lot of Perú to see and a lot of ceviche to eat.
2. Rocoto Relleno
So far, I have really only seen Rocoto Rellenos in Lima, but damn was it good. It is a delicious pepper stuffed with meat, potato, ají, and cheese.
3. Arroz Cubano
In Perú, lunch is the biggest meal, and dinner is usually a small meal consisting of a protein and rice or potatoes. A common dinner I eat is Arroz Cubano, which is just a fried egg, fried plantain, and rice. It’s simple but flavorful.
4. Picante de Cuy
Everyone knows that in Perú, guinea pigs are less of a pet, and more of a high-protein fare. At my house, we have a little shed with hundreds of little cuy running around and being fattened up for our next big celebration. We eat cuy for birthdays, fiestas, special family visits, and any occasion deemed suitable. In Ancash, we eat “Picante de Cuy” which means it is covered in the orange ají sauce to give it an extra kick. Although at first I was a little freaked out, now it really is delicious.
I eat fried fish at least once or twice a week because it is readily available in Ancash due to its abundance in our surrounding lakes and rivers. It is always served with… rice and potatoes (shocker!).
6. Chancho or Kuchi in Quechua
This particular photo makes me feel slightly queazy because this particular kuchi lead me to a day in the hospital and 24-hour loss of 12 lbs, but I have had other kuchi since and felt just fine. For big celebrations, someone in our town will slaughter their pig and all of the women prepare it for the community. This pig was for a Baptism celebration for my little neighbor, Jonathon. My host family is planning to slaughter their pig for this Christmas.
7. Caldo de Cabeza de Oveja
There are so many other beautiful foods and drinks of Perú, but unfortunately, my internet has determined they aren’t worthy of being shared at the moment. I will come back and add more when I find a better internet connection. In the meantime, I’m hoping this post convinces some friends and family to come visit and dine with me to experience one of the highest ranked gastronomical countries in the entire world.