Thanks to its geographical location, Peru has the privilege of having numerous climates and ecological niches where many crops have adapted and developed. With these natural ingredients, regional cooking styles have forged an identity that is full of quality, unique flavors and always respectful of traditions. Their recipes identify each town and are a source of regional pride.
Visiting Peru’s regions is also a way to enjoy authentic gastronomy. With a sea full of fish and seafood, and the Andean mountains and Amazon jungle that includes rich flora and fauna, cooks are inspired to apply their creativity to the region’s diverse native ingredients. Although all regional cooking styles can be found in Lima, preparing and enjoying regional foods can never be better than in their areas of origin.
The vast number of natural products and the harmony between techniques and cultures have forged over hundreds of years a style of cooking endowed with a mixed identity that merges Andean, European, African and Asian traditions, turning Peruvian gastronomy into the nation’s collective memory.
Exquisite food can be found from one end of the vast Peruvian land to the other. Along the northern coast, dishes from Tumbes, Piura and Lambayeque like cebiche, marinated fish, seafood and fish fritters, stew and chowder, are prepared using products from the sea, as are malarrabia cheese and plantain and kid cilantro stew.
The city of Chiclayo, Lambayeque’s capital, and comprised in this circuit, stands out for its exceptional use of local ingredients like loche butternut, chilies, duck, and the use of ancestral fermented corn beer (jora) as a flavoring ingredient.
Amazonian cooking offers a wide array of dishes like tacacho, ground plantain fried with dried meat. Other Amazonian dishes include juanes, ice and chicken tamales steamed in plantain leaves, patarashca, grilled fish wraps cooked in plantain leaves, inchicapi, ground peanuts, maize and cassava chicken soup. And to quench our thirst, fresh juice made from Amazon fruits, like cocona, camu berry and carambola star fruit.
The Andes harbor offers other regional delights. Because of its cosmopolitan environment, Cusco offers traditional and new Peruvian food mingled with a variety of culinary influences and styles, including Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, Thai, vegetarian and even Japanese.
Picanterías are typical restaurants from Cusco that keep alive local traditions foods like grilled guinea pig with frutillada jora beer poured into huge glasses called caporal. Other dishes in Cusco’s cookbook are lamb head broth, timpu vegetable and beef soup, quinoa stew, huatia potato and yam stew cooked in a hole in ground, adobo beef marinade, and deep fried pork, among many other local favorite dishes.
Arequipa’s cooking also preserves ancestral flavors and wisdom. Its picanterías prepare dishes cooked in wood stoves, like mouthwatering stuffed rocoto chili peppers, exquisite shrimp chowder, colorful solterito cheese, corn kernel and onion salad, and adobo marinated beef typical of Sunday breakfasts.
Picanterías in both Cusco and Arequipa practice an art of cooking that has been preserved for generations in their cookbooks.
Because of its exquisite food, Peru was chosen as the World’s Best Culinary Destination for the fourth year in a row at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2015. In April 2016, the World Tourism Organization held its Second Gastronomic Tourism World Forum in Lima. During the event’s two days, international and local experts highlighted the importance of traditional crops and the historical roots of Peruvian regional cooking.