Of course, Peru is famous for the Inca Trail and the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu. But there is even more to this rugged country than its mighty mountains. Peru has a unique cultural identity that sets it apart from its South American neighbours and the flourishing culinary scene makes sampling the local delights one of the best ways to experience it. Here are some of my favourite foodie experiences from my trip last year…
Pisco sours in Lima
In recent years, Lima has become the food capital of South America and so I was eager to try out some of this famed cuisine. I just missed the famous Mistura food festival (book super early if you want to check it out) but managed to chow down on some beef heart kebabs at one of the local joints. It’s an acquired taste, I think. The Pisco Sours, on the other hand, go down pretty easy… dangerously easy even. You can have a go at making your own during our Cocktails in Colonial Lima trip. A word of warning though – they’re seriously addictive.
Local cuisine in Arequipa
Another real highlight was our Quinoa in the Kitchen trip in Arequipa. It’s a beautiful city, no doubt about it, but it was great to experience what most people miss by learning to cook Peruvian cuisine with a local cook.
We began with a trip to the market, surrounded by vibrant vegetables, tempting cheeses and over 100 varieties of potato. Rather than just observing, it was great to peruse and purchase alongside her, particularly when there was plenty of haggling involved. But of course, the cooking itself was the real highlight! We went to her home and learnt how to make the perfect Peruvian quinoa – I’ll remember that technique for every dinner party I ever host!
Farm stays in Colca Canyon
A melting pot of traditional Andean cultures, there’s so much below the surface of Peru and I wanted to really experience it. So, I tried out our Condors in the Canyon trip and spent a night in the home of Josefina and Oswaldo in the tiny village of Coporaque.
Speaking no Spanish whatsoever, I took my trusty phrase book with me and felt memories of my Year 9 Spanish classes flooding back to me as we chatted away over breakfast. The next morning I was out on the farm with Josefina, feeding the cows and sorting through the corn. It was hard work in the hot sun – everything is done by hand. If you want to really experience how the people of the Colca Canyon live, there’s surely no better way…
Chocolate in the Sacred Valley
Ah, chocolate. The solution to so many of life’s problems… Peru may not be one of the great cocoa producers of the world, but what they do produce is seriously good. I decided to try our Going Loco with Cocoa trip and try my hand at making my own chocolate treats. All the cocoa used at the workshop is ethically sourced which, in my opinion, makes it taste ever better! Something I hadn’t anticipated though was the work out my arms would get from grinding the cocoa beans! You see, they really do make you do all the work, from cocoa bean to delicious chocolate bar. Adding the rainbow sprinkles was my favourite bit…
P.S. If you’d like to experience Peru with a different twist, check out our other posts on why going to Peru is different with Rickshaw and how to get off the beaten track in Peru and Bolivia.