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Published: October 24th 2009
As I promised in my last entry, I will dedicate this entry to eating in Peru.
In general, we were positively surprised from the food - there is a great variety, and the food is generally tasty and well seasoned.
The king of the kitchen and the most common is the chicken. There are so many restaurants dedicated of roasted chicken 'pollo ala brasa'.
The queen of the local kitchen is the potato - and there are tens types of potatoes in the market - red, white, small, big and many more kinds that I cannot describe. Therefore, chips or french fries is the most common side dish ('patatas fritas').
But, this kind of food is nothing special, the more interesting typical food includes Guinea Pig
called 'Cuy' - yes, these are the little cute creatures that in many other countries kids grow as a pet.
Other typical unique food are beef hearts on the BBQ
and the special delicacy of Alpaca steak
A very special fish dish, common on the shores of the ocean is 'Ceviche'
- this is a fresh raw fish “cocked” in lime and served with lots of onion, corn and sweet potatoes.
A very important place in the local kitchen belongs to the corn
. Again, unlike what we are used to, corn is not simply corn. There are tens of types of corn and some have their own names. The corn on cob that they sell on the streets is called Choclo
, and its grains are double the size of the corn grains we are used to see in Europe. It has a much lighter yellow color, almost white even. My kids (especially Nitzan) really liked this.
In the fruit front, we found some new very tasty fruits:
- this fruit resembles passion fruit (or Paciflora), but it is yellow on the outside, it is more rounded and sweeter inside.
- this fruit (which bears the same name as used in Spain for cucumber, and confused us in the beginning), is something between a melon and a pear. You eat its inside and not the skin like in melon, but its taste reminds a pear, but with much more juice.
- this fruit is not eaten fresh, but is used a lot in yogurts, ice creams etc. it has a strong orange color inside and a dark green outside.
Not new to us, but very common and VERY TASTY were the Mangos, the Pineapples and the Bananas.
There is an amazing variety of bananas
, which we never saw before - some are tiny and very sweet, some are purplish, some have almost a triangular shape and are used for frying, the inner color of one type is more orange than what we normally see.
What we were surprised to find is an abundant number of Chinese restaurants
- called here 'Chifa'. And they all offer fried rice - 'Chaufa'.
Most local restaurants serve for lunch a 'menu'. This ALWAYS include soup as first course and a main course. There is a huge variety of soups, some are vegetarian and some are chicken or other meat soups. The soups are so rich, that we normally had enough with 3 menus only to share between the 5 of us (and those who know our eating habits, know that our kids do eat a lot!).
In fact for the locals, chicken soup is also the traditional breakfast and dinner - so they have soup 3 times a day...
We also found strangely enough that there is a huge amount of restaurants that are serving pizza
. At the beginning we were sure it is for tourists only, but we quickly found out that the locals also like pizza and that the pizza is normally very tasty. Almost always prepared in a special clay oven using real fire and not gas.
In the drinks arena, we also found some special things we were not familiar with before. First, there is Inca Cola
- this is bubbled drink in the taste of toffee or something like that. It has a strong yellow color. We have tried it on our first lunch in Peru, and since then Shachar (my little one) would continue asking to drink it constantly.
A very interesting drink we have all learned to like as well is 'Chica Morada'
this drink is made of purple corn! They boil the corn with some other species and lemon and this becomes the drink. It reminded my kids a lot the taste and look of grape juice.
The Peruvians also drink many types of 'Mate'
- these are infusions of different leaves and fruits. Some are served as cold drinks as part of the menu and some are served hot at the end of meals. We have drank mate made of quince (“Chabushim” in Henbrew), apple, ginger and more.
This section could not be complete without mentioning the fruit juices that you can find anywhere. With the variety of fruits that I have talked about, it is also very common to have fresh fruit juices or fruit shakes - with water or milk, and they all have great taste.
Normally, desert is not a strong part of the Peruvian kitchen, as far as we got to know it. Although we did find mainly in Cusco (but also a little in Arequipa) a trend of bakeries and coffee shops. There were bakeries and coffee shops selling coffee and cakes on every corner. The main thing they do use in their cakes and sweets is Dulce De Leche
(“Ribat Chalav” in Hebrew) which is locally called 'manjar'. In one restaurant in Nazca, the kids received pancake stuffed with manjar, and they said it was the best pancake they ever had...
But, since Peruvians do not have many deserts, they compensate by having endless number of shops and stalls selling chocolate bars, waffles, biscuits etc.
I could not complete an entry about the food in Peru without mentioning Coca leaves
. Well, Coca leaves is something that the locals use fairly a lot - chewing the leaves as is, eating coca candies or having 'mate de coca' which is infusion (tea) made with coca leaves. Locals say that the coca leaves helps to cope with the altitude, which in the Andes mountains is 3000m and higher.
I guess, there are additional special dishes I could have told you about ('Uquitos', 'Tamales', 'Tequenes' and others), but I will have to leave something for your own explorations.... and so I will end this entry here.
In light of technical difficulties, I did not manage to include pictures into this blog, so if you want to see the relevant pictures please go to the following link -
Eating in Peru - gallery
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