13 ways to eat like a Peruvian

Hello everyone! It’s Friday the 13th. As a saying I like goes: “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows.” To have a little fun with the date, we came up with 13 ways to eat like a Peruvian. If you’re Peruvian, you’ll nod as you scroll down the list and know exactly what we’re talking about. For everyone else, this will give you a clearer view (hopefully) of our food-obsessed culture.

Here’s the list:

1. Eat late. Lunch at 11am? Dinner at 6pm? Are these gringos crazy? This is what we usually think when we come in contact with the foreign custom of eating early. Our lunches (even business ones) start at least at 2pm, and dinner is around 8, 9, or 10pm. Restaurants don’t even open much earlier than that!

2. Have piqueos (hors d’oeuvres) at the start of a meal. Whether it’s just canchita(dried and toasted Andean corn), tequeños, yuquitas (fried yuca) with Huancaina sauce, conchitas a la parmesana, or a combination of dishes shared by everyone in the table , if you eat out in Peru you better be hungry, because 3 courses are not enough for us.

3. Eat everything with rice. And we mean EVERYTHING. Even dishes that are already packed with carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, pasta, or even more rice! We just can’t get enough of it.

4. Drink chicha morada or Inca Kolawith your meals. Chicha morada is a drink made of purple corn,fruits and spices. There’s almost no home, restaurant, or celebration where it’s not prepared. The taste is very particular, and Peruvians love it so much that they take commercial, ready-made versionsin their bags when they move abroad. Inca Kola, on the other hand, is our national fizzy drink. Foreigners tend to agree that it tastes like chewing gum, but we’re so used to the flavor that we can’t feel it. Believe it or not, the actual ingredient behind it is lemongrass!!!

5. Combine several dishes together. There is even a special name for this: combinado. Arroz con pollo with Huancaina sauce. Cebiche with tallarines rojos (spaghetti with tomato and carrot sauce). You can find people eating combinados in most Peruvian markets. The flavors sinergize and create a new dish altogether, with, we must admit, amazing results sometimes.

6. Somehow, someway, get palta (avocado) into your meals. Avocados with bread, as part of salads, with rice, stuffed with chicken, tuna, shrimps, cebiche, or vegetables… Avocado with mayonnaise as a dip for tequeños… What would we do without our beloved (and may I say, delicious) paltas?

7. Spice it up. Bland food should vanish from the face of the earth… at least from a Peruvian‘s point of view. The intense love for ajíchili pepper– is in our blood, and we add it to soups, mayonnaise, rice, bread, stews, chicken, fish, etc. We cook with many different types of chili peppers, each one having a unique flavor and aroma, and I think that you need to be Peruvian to know them all the way we do. Beware newcomers! I’ve seen people turn red, sweat, and even cry by eating Peruvian chilis with over-confidence.

8. Start with aderezo. The preparation of virtually every dish in Peru starts with what we call “aderezo” or “ahogado“. This savory mixture of red onion, garlic and chili pepper really is the basis of all our food. And when I say onions and garlic, it means heavy on the onions and heavy on the garlic. Maybe this is what makes all our dishes burst in flavor.

9. Eat everything that moves. Ever thought of eating a guinea pig, alpaca, iguana, cat, or snail? Peruvians have! And not only have they learned to eat every unfortunate animal that happens to cross their eyesight, they also eat every part of it. Head, tongue, intestines, feet, tail, testicles…whatever it is, if you give it to a Peruvian, he/she will find a tasty way to cook it, feed it to all his/her family , and turn it into a popular tradition.

10. Big portions. Being pretty health conscious girls, we’re always amazed by how much Peruvians eat. Yes, we can eat a lot too, because the food is just too tempting to stop. But we are very low on the bar of food portions compared to the average Peruvian. The dishes you get served at home and restaurants sometimes look like they’re for 4 people instead of one, and we’re not exaggerating.

Which brings us to the next 2 points…

11. Put salsa criolla and a fried egg on top of everything. This is an easy way to make the dish more varied in taste, and especially to make it more filling, And, as we have seen in the previous point, when it comes to eating, more is always better for Peruvians.

12. Eat real food for breakfast, especially on weekends. And by real food we don’t mean oats, omelettes or fruit salad. We mean tamales, pan con chicharrón, aguadito de pollo, and whatever you made for lunch or dinner the previous night. Yup. Peruvians can’t get enough of their food. Why waste any opportunity to eat it?

13. Don’t pass on dessert. You ALWAYS have to make room for dessert. We usually say there’s a different compartment in the stomach for dessert. It doesn’t matter how full we are, there is always a space especially reserved for it. It´s amazing, even beauty queens, so aware of their bodies and their diets, always order dessert. Cakes, merengados, bavarois, alfajores, soufflés, turrones, ice cream… the list is endless, and our love for them, too.

 

Oh, we couldn’t help it. We had to give you an extra one!

14. Praise the food. It’s no coincidence that Gastón Acurio, our celebrity chef, has a TV show where he goes around Peru trying new dishes and being extremely generous with the “mmmmmms!”, “aaaaaaaaahs!”, and “ooooooohs!” In Peru, this is what we do. And we also love to verbalize our love for food a bit more eloquently than that. “There’s nothing like Peruvian food“, “When I’m abroad, the thing I miss the most is the food“, and “Our food is by far the best and most varied in the world”, are just a few typical phrases that come out of Peruvian mouths on a regular basis.

 

Share this with your friends!

Comments

  1. You were right, I nodded all along.
    And this is just a glimpse of the many traditions we have. I’d like to add the most important part of any party night: the “sanguchon”. After any night out, most peruvians will not go back home… they stop at one of the many artisanal sandwich shops to have a monster-sized treat before going to bed.

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Eduardo, we are working on a post about our famous and beloved sanguchón. Great idea. And you´re so right, many of them are huge!!! How can we go to sleep after eating one of those?

  2. This is SO true! We grew up eating rice with everything, and holidays with the family are one giant food fest, capped off with alfajores. My non-Peruvian husband marvels at how we can put away food, but he loves it. He doesn’t speak Spanish but he learned how to say “delicioso” and has ample opportunities to use it after my father cooks or if we’re in a Peruvian restaurant.

  3. Pufff… You made me soooo hungry! This all looks so good, specially the avocado and the tuna! Que rico!!! I also agree with eating late!!! :-) Saludos!

    • Peru Delights says:

      I actually prefer eating a bit earlier now. I guess living abroad for so many years has “ruined” my way of eating. LOL.

  4. I think I might have been Peruvian in another life, because I eat like a peruvian all the time! Love the post.

  5. hahaha so true, food in peru is just amazing, i love my peruvian cuisisne!!! delicioso!!!

  6. Oh how much I miss my food! I live now in Sudafrica and it is really hard to get use to have lunch at 12 and dinner at 6!! I also miss the piqueos, sharing a bit of this and that,in the meantime the main courses arrive, we peruvians take our time to eat, what about the “sobremesa” ?we stay for hours chatting about everything that it can be almost time for the next meal ! Thanks for this article it will help my husband to understand the realationship that we have with our food. Gracias!

    • Peru Delights says:

      Hi Rocio: la sobremesa…hours chatting over coffee or tea. This is so Peruvian, and a great tradition. You visit Peru with your husband, he will love it! What Peruvian dishes do you prepare in South Africa? Is it easy to find the right ingredients?

  7. DINO RISI says:

    Congrats on the delicious article! Though the photograph depicting chicharron is actually Jamon del Pais for the Butifarras. Everything else is spot on.

    • Peru Delights says:

      Thanks, Gino, good comment. We’re glad you liked the post. There is no food like Peruvian, right? BTW, the recipe for butifarras is on its way, we´ll post about them very soon.

  8. Great post! as a peruvian I have a huge LOVE for food!!! and created and wrote the Book Eating Free.
    Simplemente love your post! thanks

  9. oh what a find!!! i am super hungry now, especially after seeing that photo of the ham sandwiches, with the HUGE ham ready to be sliced. thank you!

  10. best description ever. When you were describing that we Peruvians eat everything with rice it reminds me of my papi. He needs to have a bowl of rice with everything and anything that is served to him. I am loving your page!!

  11. We absolutely loved the food in Peru when we travelled there! We had incredible Ceviche and Sushi in Lima, and yes we tried the Cuy (Guinea Pig) twice! Once in Cusco and once in Puno (we had two very different experiences of it!). You can see some photos of our guinea pig and ceviche at http://www.worldlynomads.com/index.php/peruvian-food/ . As you can see, guinea pig is not for the faint hearted from our experience!

    • Peru Delights says:

      Thanks for your link Barry. Mmmmm….cebiche and sushi. You’ve made us hungry! Did you try the “acebichado” makis? It’s sushi with cebiche sauce. Yum yum!

  12. Are u peruvian? I really love ir blog!! I sent ir page to a german friend :).

  13. Natalia says:

    Oh lol! So true about our delicious food! I myself have taken chicha aji and orejitas from Lima to Houston. But now we get lots of stuff here at Fiesta supermarket. Today I even found chifles from Peru, not the central america ones. Even chicha de jora, choclo desgranado, rocoto and lucuma! I like that more of our ingredients are coming to US! :) Anyways, the only thing I disagree is with point #9, i hadn’t eaten iguana lol? or cat or snail… U forgot to put zuri ‘thou hehehe well maybe not, people will be scared about worms =O Other than that your blog is nice, I will follow. Pics are pretty too! Regards :)

  14. Well this answers a lot of questions. My girlfriend is Peruvian and she’s always going to her dads house for breakfast at 11 A.M.! They have no qualms with eating dinner at 8 or 9 P.M., and then wanting coffee, tea and some kind of dessert bread after that. I thought they were just weird or it was an east coast thing but now I understand it’s cultural. Thanks for the heads up. I actually got used to eating heavy pork and beef dishes for ‘breakfast’ but since it’s almost noon I just think of it as early lunch. LOL.

Speak Your Mind

*