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Peruvian Food

As I mentioned previously, before we started really planning this trip, I had no idea Lima was such a hotbed of amazing cuisine.  Three of the world’s Top 50 Restaurants are in Lima.  We made sure to book reservations at all three, even though we were really only spending two days in Lima.  We booked two for lunch and one for dinner.  These restaurants weren’t scheduled until the very end of our trip.

We landed in Peru around 21h00 on a Saturday night, with a 09h00 departure the following morning. I had read of a great new bar with fantastic Peruvian Bar Food (modern casual take on traditional Peruvian fare) that I wanted to try.  We couldn’t make resos until 30 days prior to our arrival, which of course I forgot to do until the day before we left Chicago. I was able to book a spot for two at 21h45. Little did I know that with customs, baggage claim, taxis and traffic we wouldn’t be ready to eat until closer to 22h30. The hotel tried to get our spot, but were unable to do so. This place was packed.  They recommended another place called Lima27, which was a very short cab ride away. This place was also a modern take on traditional Peruvian Food and it was stellar.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that I was introduced to ceviche / tartare with a lemon sorbet as an accompaniment. I had never seen this before. It kicked the flavors to an entirely new level and quite honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t come across this before – it seems so obvious now. The cold, tart lemon flavor pairs perfectly with the fish. I could eat this daily for the rest of my life.

Tuna tartare with lemon sorbet. Utterly mind blowing flavors.

Tuna tartare with lemon sorbet. Utterly mind blowing flavors.

I was also introduced to Causa, which is basically a mashed potato dumpling with something fun/fancy on top. We had some ceviche, edible flowers, other vegetables or just a sauce. I was surprised at how different the potato could taste with a tiny drop of something added atop.

Causa with various toppings from sauces to fish to edible flowers.

Causa with various toppings from sauces to fish to edible flowers.

As we continued our trek through Peru we found, like elsewhere on the continent, lots of meat and potatoes. We are adventurous eaters. We’ve done motorbike driven street food in Saigon, bun cha in a dilapidated building in Hanoi, Cambodian BBQ in Siem Reap, Cape Malay in Cape Town, Shanghai Street food (which didn’t  make us violently ill), the stinkiest cheese in Burgundy and even the free breakfast buffet at a Holiday Inn in central Illinois. One of the things I wanted to try while in Peru was cuy or guinea pig.

I read of a place where you can go pick out you guinea pig (think lobster), you can pet/cuddle it (and name it, if you want) before they kill and roast it. We didn’t do that. I’m not that dead inside. We did find a place that offered roasted cuy in Cusco  (not hard to find) and ordered it along with trout ceviche and alpaca skewers.

Roasted Cuy (guinea pig). Quite the smile, eh?

Roasted Cuy (guinea pig). Quite the smile, eh?

I’m not usually a trout person, but this was really good. The corn with it wasn’t the traditional sweet corn we find in the US, but a savory corn.

Trucha (trout) ceviche with Andean Potato and local corn.

Trucha (trout) ceviche with Andean Potato and local corn.

The alpaca reminded me of any other large mammal I’ve eaten: beef (more veal), kudu – it wasn’t like lamb or goat, which is what I first thought it would be like.

The alpaca skewers were tasty, but alpaca doesn't have a distinct flavor - it tasted like veal.

The alpaca skewers were tasty, but alpaca doesn’t have a distinct flavor – it tasted like veal.

As we ate our way through Peru we found more of the same: meat, potatoes, trout and something new: rocoto relleno, which is very popular in Arequipa. While I am far from a vegetarian, I do try to limit my meat consumption to once a day…not such an easy thing for me here in Peru.

Rocoto relleno in Arequipa, Peru. These tiny peppers are stuffed with meat and veg and served with chips made from local potatoes.

Rocoto relleno in Arequipa, Peru. These tiny peppers are stuffed with meat and veg and served with chips made from local potatoes.

What were your favorite foods while in Peru?  Were you getting a little tired of the meat heavy dishes?  I was a little hesitant of the Rocoto relleno in Arequipa, just because I was recovering from a stomach issue, but it was perfectly spicy and flavorful.  I can’t wait to make this pepper dish as well as the sorbet tartare when I get back home.


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