One of the best ways to experience a new culture is through its cuisine. While traveling in Peru, I had a wonderful time exploring the seaside town of Miraflores
in Lima, attending a local football match, visiting the historic city of Cusco
and spending a day at Machu Picchu. But a highlight of the trip was the food tour I took through the streets of Lima.
Several companies offer food tours ranging in price and length. My boyfriend and I, along with another couple we were traveling with, booked a 3 hour tour for $35 with Food Walking Tour Peru
. On the morning of our tour, the 4 of us gathered in Parque Kennedy where we met our guides Hari and Miquela.
After introductions, we were off to taste our way through the streets of Peru, but not before a brief history lesson. Our first stop was to the Monumento a Victimas de Tarata, a memorial fountain erected to honor the victims of the 1992 terrorist attack. The bombing, which took place in the midst of the country’s civil war, left 25 dead and injured more than 200. This tragedy led to self-reflection and eventual reconciliation and a shift towards comradery among the population. Our guide Hari explained, “I know you signed up for a food tour, but it’s important to understand a bit of background about the place you’re visiting.” I appreciated learning some of Peru’s rich history and our guide’s perspectives. It highlighted the fact that although Peru enjoys relative peace and prosperity, it is not without its struggles.
With our minds enlightened and stomachs growling, we made our way to the first restaurant. Arrecife is locally owned and serves a variety of traditional cuisines. The ambiance was understated, but the food was an explosion of color and flavor, particularly the parihuela. This spicy seafood soup came out steaming and filled to the brim with a seafood medley that included squid, scallops, white fish, crawfish and muscles all nestled in a golden broth perfectly layered with flavors of chilies and fresh herbs creating a tangy, spicy, salty, smoky, citrusy bowl of yumminess.
Next up was El Sabrosa, where we stopped for ceviche, a culinary staple in Peru. Traditionally made by covering raw fish with a mixture of citrus and spices for several hours until the fish is thoroughly cooked. The seafood becomes tender after marinating in the broth. It is then served with a garnish of yucca, sweet potatoes, corn and thinly sliced onions. The sweetness from the corn and sweet potatoes perfectly balances the tanginess of lime juice and spices. A sprinkle of roasted corn nuts on top added an extra bit of saltiness and crunch and made for a perfectly delicious bite!
We then made our way to a local market, but not before stopping at a bodega for Inka Kola, the national beverage of Peru and a source of great pride for the country. This citron colored sweet soda was created and distributed in Peru and is known as “The drink of Peru”. Hari then led us through a traditional market where we smelled and sampled a variety of local spices, fruits and vegetables. The vibrant colors, intriguing scents and variety of mouthwatering flavors made for a wonderful experience.
Samantha’s Comida Criolla was our next stop, where we sampled carapulcra, an Afro/Peruvian stew containing pork, dehydrated potatoes, peanuts, aji panca peppers and spices and served with rice, potatoes or yucca. It was spicy, savory and quite flavorful, but the highlight for me was the chicka morada, a tart yet sweet traditional juice drink made with purple corn. It is made by boiling the corn along with pineapple skin, apple slices, cinnamon and cloves for 3-4 hours. The mixture is then strained and sugar and lemon juice is added. The liquid is then placed in a freezer to chill before serving. The dark purple drink tasted bright and refreshing and I couldn’t get enough after spending the day walking and eating my way through Lima.
Our final stop was the Choco Museo
or chocolate museum where we were given a brief history of chocolate making in South America and the process used to produce various types of chocolate. After the tour, we each sampled a dessert. I opted for the Mayan hot chocolate, which started with a base of hot goat milk that I could add melted milk chocolate, honey or chili powder to. The sweet and spicy drink was a sweet and delicious way to end the day that was filled with a variety of unique dishes and flavors.
If you are planning to visit Peru, a food tour is an absolute must! The folks at Food Walking Tour Peru provided a great experience filled with fun, flavor and a few surprises along the way!
Sarah Yekinni is a lawyer, blogger and travel lover who would much rather be on a plane than in an office. Her passion for travel and love of writing inspired her to create a space to share her experiences and engage with others who share her wending spirit. She launched houseofwend.com in hopes of encouraging her readers to embark on their own adventures and wend their way.