Eating Through Peru

My husband and I just got back from a glorious trip to Peru where we were really pleased with all of our meals. Peru is known for its amazing ceviche which has different variations from the immigrants who have come to Peru over the years. It’s also known for it’s delicacy-the guinea pig. Another one of our favorites is the Pisco Sour which is the “Peruvian cocktail.” There are countless other great meals and snacks we tried in Cuzco and hiking trip through the Andes on our way to Macchu Piccu. Listed below are just a few of the fav’s.

First Up: The Coco leaves that make an adequate tasting tea to help with the altitude sickness. You can chew on them constantly to help while you are hiking or you can just drink it with hot water. All throughout museums there are sculptures of indigenous people with large jaws to show how the people continuously chewed on the leaves while they worked and hiked through the mountains. Also, the Spaniards were happy distributing the leaves to the people they made work for them through the conquering years. Coco leaves also happen to deprive you of an appetite and have caffeine. A perfect combo in the conquerors mind. My husband enjoyed the coco candies they have. I still am unsure as to whether they are really that effective with all that sugar added in!

Next: The famous Pisco Sour.

It’s similar to the margarita and the caprihina.It’s made with pisco which is the famous liquor (which a grape brandy made in Peru and Chile) in Peru with lime, sugar and angostura bitters to top it off. I’m in love with this drink, but it is heavy! We had two the last night we were in Peru and it was one too many. With the elevation in Cuzco being 11,000 feet above sea level, we started to realize why limiting alcohol was heavily advised.

Next…. The Guinea Pig
I wasn’t a fan. In short, it’s gamey and you do have to watch for small bones. We had a nicer version at a nice restartant we were at that served it with pancake and a sweet and sour sauce to dip it in. It made you forget …sort of…

On our way to our hike, we stopped off at a local market and watched the locals make scarves and sweaters from the alpaca of the region. They also had made some guinea pig in the traditional way. Full roast. I didn’t partake in this one.

Another Peruvian drink that some of you may have heard of is corn beer or corn juice. Many farmers are known to chug down a glass of corn juice for breakfast as it’s supposed to give you lots of energy. We stopped off at brewery and tried some fresh corn juice that had yet to be fermented. The local guide and owner told us that in a typical home a “shot class” was a twenty ounce glass that had to be drunk upon arrival at someone’s house. Otherwise, the host would think you were rude. I was able to sip the juice but it was very, very sweet.

Next up, one of my favorite meals of the entire lunch. We stopped off for lunch the day before the hike and were served an amazing, hearty stew. There was no corn or potatoes lacking in my diet on my trip to Peru. This meal was no exception. It was a mixture of quinoa, potatoes, corn and shredded chicken. It was delicious. It was topped off with…wait for it… corn juice. This was a blue corn, however which is much more naturally sweet and used everywhere as a candy base.

There were many other great foods we tried while on our trip. We were lucky enough to go on an extremely difficult, yet satisfying three day hike and saw incredible views along the way. We were more lucky to have an amazing chef prepare our meals throughout the hike! We got three course meals–at every meal. Two last meals that I think are worth sharing are this amazing quinoa porridge. Sweet, simple and something I’m definitely going to be looking for in cookbooks over the next couple of months (so sorry I have no pic!). The second, but most favorite meal of the trip is a standard dish on all menu’s. It’s called Aji de Gallina and it’s a shredded chicken with cream base made with olives and walnuts. It also has aji amarillo peppers which are slightly hot and create the vivid yellow sauce. It comes with a side of rice, avocado. Amazing comfort food. I think I had it three times in one week.

In case anyone wants to try it tonight:
Aji De Gallina Recipe on About.com

This seems to be a great recipe, but I haven’t tried it yet!

Thanks for reading!

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9 thoughts on “Eating Through Peru

  1. I’m jealous, sounds like a great trip. Also, ever since reading Charles Mann’s book 1493 I’ve wanted to try some of the amazing varieties of Peruvian potatoes that never make it here. Pisco Sours, great hiking, someone to cook for you – what’s not to like? Great pictures. Machu Picchu in the last photos?

    Ken

  2. Oh Marie, now I am even more jealous. I love the picture of you too. Almost as much as the one of that guinea pig. Just kidding, what are sisters for…I haven’t heard of the corn juice phenomenon, how interesting, trying to imagine what that must taste like. Awesome, awesome trip.

  3. I also hiked the Incan trail and experienced some of the same things.. the coco de mata (coco tea), by the way I was awake for 48 hours straight, the pisco sour (it was ok, not my favorite), had a bite of guinea pig too, and alpaca skewers. However, I didnt hear of the corn juice. shucks! This was such a wonderful trip. Thank you for memories:)

  4. I can’t believe you didn’t try the roasted guinea pig at the market? I mean, when in Rome and all that…. 🙂 Looks like you had a great time. Those Pisco Sours are on the list to try sometime soon!

  5. Hi, Marie — Great report on your trip! I’m going to Peru in June, so I especially appreciated your advice about the coca leaves. Do not plan to trek — envy you that experience!

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