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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ten Memorable Peruvian Food & Drink Experiences

Written by Jill Weinlein
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Visiting Peru over the summer, I discovered the indigenous Inca people were agriculturists who introduced four mild staples into the world. They also grew fruits filled with antioxidants and plants to boost energy and help with the high altitude. Today Peruvian dishes are a fusion of Inca, Spanish, African, Asian, French, Italian and American flavors. Here is a guide to enjoy 10 pleasing gastronomical experiences while exploring Peru.



1. Did you know that 99% of all potatoes in the world are descendants of South America? The potato is originally from Peru, and Peruvians grow over 3,000 types in different sizes, shapes, and colors. When the Spaniards invaded Peru, they sailed tuber treasures back to Europe. One of the most famous Peruvian potato dishes is Papas a la Huancaina (Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce).


2. Another staple the Spaniards brought back to Spain was Peruvian corn. Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn. The kernel size and colors were a surprise. Besides yellow corn, they grow purple, pink, white and black. In South America they make fermented and non-fermented Chicha corn beverage, almost like beer. In Peru it’s consumed in vast quantities during religious festivals. Driving through Peru, we noticed bamboo poles with red flags or balloons at the tip of the pole advertising fresh Chicha inside. My favorite way to eat corn in Peru was crunching salty Inca Corn, similar to corn nuts, by the handfuls.


3. On almost every menu is quinoa, because it originated in the Andean region of Peru over 4,000 years ago. Quinoa is a sacred crop to the Inca’s who call it "mother of all grains.” In 2013, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared "International Year of Quinoa.” It’s gluten-free and easy to digest. I enjoyed spooning vegetable and quinoa soup at Pachapapa in the Plaza San Blas area of Cusco. Quinoa is excellent in pancakes too.


4. The last staple grown in Peru are legumes. A large Lima bean was cultivated in Peru around 2000 BC. They are found in stews, side dishes and salads.


5. Coca is known throughout the world for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. It grows as a bush in the Eastern Andes and along the Amazon River in Peru and other areas in South America. Entering the airport arrival gate in Cusco, Peru there was a wicker basket filled with coca leaves. To welcome visitors a sign states - “Free Coca Leafs, Take only 3.” These leaves are known to alleviate high altitude sickness. Our hotel Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel offered the leaves for guests to steep in hot water and sip. Coca helps reduce headaches, stomach aches and malaise. Since Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level, the hotel also offered oxygen tanks and masks for guests to breathe in pure oxygen.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01 November 2017

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