Before I came to south America, a lot of people asked me what sort of food I was expecting to eat. All I could tell anyone was churros, alfajores, dulce de leche (sweets milk, its of thick consistency so you can spread on toast etc), té yerba maté and steak, all of which I know are Argentinian. I didn’t have a clue about Peruvian food, but travelling is learning, and this is what I’ve learnt so far while being in Peru.
Ceviche (which I was told was raw fish, but then later told was boiled fish, served with peppers and some other things) is a traditional Peruvian dish, particularly for Lima. I haven’t tried it. I have, however, tried Aji de Gallina, which is also a Peruvian dish. It is chicken in a sauce with yellow peppers, served with rice. I highly recommend trying it, it’s delicious.
Traditional food of Arequipa is, among other things, Alpaca meat. I’ve tried that both in a stir-fry and on a pizza. The restaurant I went to in Arequipa also served Guinea pig in various forms. I haven’t yet tried that.
As far as drinks go, Pisco sours (alcoholic cocktail) is a big Peruvian drink. Its made from pisco (some sort of liquer), lemon juice, sugar and topped off with egg whites and a couple of drops of something sour tasting that I can’t remember the name of).
There is also Inca Kola. It’s a Peruvian soft drink similar to coca cola, but it has a lime taste to it. I recommend it.
If you’re going to the highlands in Peru, drinking té maté de coca is good for altitude sickness. It’s coca leaf tea, and yes, made from the leaves that are also used to make cocaine. I can assure you it’s not the same thing. I’m highly anti-drugs so I wouldn’t drink anything if I thought it had drugs in it. What makes coca leaf tea different to actual cocaine is that cocaine is made from crushed coca leaves and a whole load of toxins that make it dangerous and illegal, whereas coca leaf tea is just a bunch of coca leaves brewed in hot water. It’s a bit like a herbal tea, and it even tastes great with sugar.
A similar drink is triple tea, which consists of coca leaves, mint and chocoma (a plant that grows in the Andean highlands). This also helps with altitude sickness.
There are coca leaf sweets you can buy too to help with altitude sickness. They come in various forms- candy, candy with honey, toffee and biscuits.
For anyone who knows me well, you’ll know my big thing is chocolate. On my second day in Lima I managed to locate a chocolate museum. I had a brief tour in Spanish (also available in English) and got a few samples along the way. They also had a cafe, so I tried an iced chocolate, which was yummy but had a little slice to it. For any other chocolate lovers reading this, I can confirm that cadburys is available in some places, and M&Ms (both plain and peanut) are also widely available.
You can also get churros, alfajores and dulce de leche here too.