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The Food of Peru and the Andes

Peru and the Andes

Peruvian cuisine is a collection of 500 years of blending between international cultures. Spanish, Africans, Japanese, and Chinese settlers contributed to a melting pot of tastes. Most dishes are filled with fresh and colorful ingredients that explode with flavor. Each section of Peru has a unique cooking style that represents its natural resources and foreign influences.

Peruvian food is considered quite captivating. The diversity of the combined cultures creates a fusion of flavors that pleases the senses. Seafood and citrus juices are commonly paired together. Also, onions and chili peppers are used to provide a kick to the taste buds. Other vegetables that contribute to unique Peruvian flavors are potatoes and choclo, corn originally harvested in the Andes. Choclo has a distinct texture and nuttier taste than corn grown in America. One of the most delicious Peruvian-style chicken recipes begins with a marinade of soy sauce, red peppers, garlic, and cumin. These ingredients give the poultry a smoky and salty flavoring.

Besides the recent culinary mixture of cultures in the region, cooking methods of ancient Incan civilizations are still practiced. Pachamanca is very popular throughout the Andean region. This technique places meats, herbs, and vegetables underground on hot stone beds and slow cooks the items for hours. Since it is time consuming, it is most often used to prepare for celebrations. Cuy chactado, or fried guinea pig, has been part of the Andean diet for centuries and is commonly cooked in this manner.

More contemporary Peruvian dishes include cebiches, paellas, and empanadas. Cebiches are seafood recipes prepared with raw fish, lime or lemon juice, and chili peppers. Paella is a combination of chicken, rice, seafood and other vegetables cooked in a shallow pan. An empanada is a handheld pastry stuffed with beef or chicken.

As this genre of food keeps gaining popularity, Peruvian restaurants are popping up across the country. La Costanera Restaurant is an excellent place to sample some authentic flavors of Peru and the Andes. Guests are invited to enjoy the culinary delights of Chef Carlos Altamirano. Each dish is prepared with Latin American ingredients that capture the true essence of the culture.

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