Peru Country Manager Daniel Salazar talks about why Peruvian food is so good.
Peru has amazing food, period. Everyone in Peru knows this, and many people outside come to Peru just for the food. You may think this is subjective, but it’s not: Peru has been named the “World’s Leading Culinary Destination” in 2018 by the World Travel Awards. In fact, Peru has won this award for the
sixth seventh year in a row. Volunteers usually hear about Peru mainly because of Machu Picchu, but once they try Peruvian food, they know we have the eight wonder of the world.
Three Facts about Peruvian Food:
- The basic ingredients of Peruvian food are: rice, potatoes, chicken, and fish, as well as Peruvian hot peppers.
- The number of restaurants in Peru has tripled from about 35, 000 in 2000, to about 100, 000 in 2015.
- Peru has the top 1 and 2 restaurants in Latin America, a total of 10 on Latin America’s top 50 list, and most importantly, 2 in the World’s Top 10.
When I was young
The tastiness of Peruvian food is a relatively recent discovery. About twenty years ago, we Peruvians liked our food, but we didn’t know it was that good. Since tourism was not as developed, we didn’t have people from outside who could judge its quality. Also, the food itself wasn’t as refined. It had the quality and taste, but not the proper look. If you had a guest or a date in Peru, you would take them to a French restaurant, not to a Peruvian restaurant.
But chefs and visionaries like Gaston Acurio turned common Peruvian dishes into fine cuisine. The food itself evolved, developing its diversity and own character at the same time. As the country became safer and tourism developed, more and more people tasted and fell in love with Peruvian food. Now Peruvians really pride on their food, and we think it’s just weird to take someone to a foreign restaurant.
Why Peruvian food is so good:
Let’s back up a little bit in history. Peru was originally the capital and center of the Inca Empire, occupying the territory of what are now 6 different countries, extending from Chile to Colombia. It had the coast, the jungle, the mountains, and all sorts of climates and ecosystems. When the Spanish conquered the Incas, they brought with them their Arabic heritage (think of the spices) and African influences (with the slaves). If you add to that the influence of Chinese and Italian cuisine that came with 19th century migration, you get some tasty food. Thus Peruvian food consists of all kinds of meats, seafood, spices, vegetables, carbs, and dairy products from all around the world. At the same time, many of these ingredients only grow in Peru, like aji amarillo (peruvian yellow pepper), which is present in most dishes and give it a characteristic flavor. The mixture of great ingredients with a variety of influences is what makes Peruvian food so good.
If you come to Peru, you can visit Machu Picchu, stay at the hotel in the lovely district of Miraflores, and help struggling communities, youth, and children, but on top of that, you will get to understand why Peruvian food is so good.
Restaurants you MUST visit while you are in Peru
- World’s 6th best restaurant and Latin America’s 2nd best restaurant: Central (Avant-garde Peruvian)
- World’s 7th best restaurant Latin America’s best restaurant: Maido (Peruvian-Nikkei Fusion)
- World’s 39th best restaurant and Latin America’s 8th best restaurant: Astrid y Gaston (Modern Peruvian)
- Latin America’s 13th best restaurant: Isolina (Traditional Peruvian)
- Latin America’s 16th best restaurant: Rafael (Traditional Peruvian)
- Latin America’s 17th best restaurant: La Mar (Peruvian Seafood)
- Latin America’s 25th best restaurant: Osso Carnicería y Salumería (Meat)