Peruvian Food and Beverages


Healthy chamomile tea @ Natallia Khlapushyna 2012 iStockphoto

Healthy chamomile tea

Peruvian food is a farrago of indigenous pre-Columbian, and immigrant Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, West African and Italian cuisines, with distinct flavors native to Peru’s three main regions: the Pacific Coast, the Andes and the Amazon. Lima and the coastline are celebrated for their seafood, particularly cerviches (raw fish marinated in citrus juice and flavored with aji or chili peppers) and fresh scallops. Distinctive Peruvian highland cuisine such as that found in Cuzco is built heavily upon the native potatoes (of which there are over 4,000 varieties) and grains such as quinoa. Popular local foods here include cuy (guinea pig), tamales (corn cakes) and chiriuchu (a sampler of meats and other items). The Amazon has many rare and unusual fruits, vegetables and herbs to serve as a palette for creative chefs to design contemporary dishes.

An ice-cold glass of chicha amarilla (yellow corn beer) is a favorite local drink. As to hot beverages, matés (herbal teas) served black with lemon and sugar, are more popular than plain tea in Peru, with manzanilla (chamomile) and anis (aniseed) being the most prevalent. Maté de coca (coca leaf tea) is believed to help in altitude sickness and is the iconic drink of the highlands.