Probably the best way to describe Lima is “the culinary centre of Latin America“. Combining national and international flavours, spices and delicacies to keep its growing culinary reputation high in the air. In 2006, Lima even won the award for Gastronomic (Culinary) Capital of the Americas, revealing its rich variety in the kitchen to the world.
So you might wonder, what type of food Lima has to offer for the hungry backpacker stomach. The diversity in food here is so immense that for almost every flavour you can find another dish! This article will give you an idea of the types of food available in Lima and where it actually comes from.
Peruvian chefs are true culinary artists in the kitchen. With Peru’s reputation of having an amazing range in seafood choices and being world-class crop producer of many varieties of potatoes (2000+ variations), maize (30+ variations), tomatoes (15+ variations) and so on, it has the advantage to experiment with many combinations to create new flavours.
You will find a multitude of great eateries on every corner offering a wide choice of (inter)national foods. The many immigrants that came to Peru during the last centuries have created an even bigger choice in the combinations available.
Peru has a rich variety in natural beauty, plants, fish and animals. This results in some amazing dishes that range back many decennia, if not centuries. In most simple dishes you will find a mixture of rice, beans, salad and potatoes, the basis of the Peruvian cuisine.
Through mixing several local meats, vegetables and spices, Peru has created some immensely popular dishes, like Cuy (fried guinea pig), Lomo Saltado (meat, vegetable and rice dish) and Tacutacu (steak dish) to mention a few.
Peru also has a very rich sea and river life swimming around in the Pacific Ocean, Amazon river and Lake Titicaca. Peruvian seafoodThis also explains why in almost every restaurant in Lima you can find Peru’s world famous ceviche (mixture of different types of fish), a real must-try before you leave Lima! Or try one of the many other seafood combinations like Arroz con Mariscos (rice with seafood), Pulpo al olivo (Olive Octopus) or Choritos a la Chalaca (great Mussel dish).
Peruvian Creole food
Creole food is probably the most widely spread cuisine you will find in Lima. This type of food has its origins from people called creoles, a mixture of Spanish and indigenous descendants living along Peru’s coastal line. Creole foods are usually found in appetizers or served with a Peruvian or international dish.
Some examples of typical Creole dishes are Causa (a mashed potato base, usually filled or combined with other local foods), Creole rice (rice mixed with cilantro, parsley or spinach), Papa a la huancaína (potato with a sauce made from Andean cheese) and the not to be forgotten Aji de Gallina (type of chicken curry), which is just as widely available and popular as the Peruvian dish ceviche.
Chinese- and Japanese-Peruvian foods
Over the last decades, more and more Eastern immigrants in Peru have started to experiment with the Peruvian cuisine. This has grown in a very popular Peruvian-Oriental mixture of Chinese and Japanese based dishes.
A chifa is a typical name for a Chinese restaurant in Lima and it can be found on almost every street corner, where they are known to serve typical Chinese dishes with a Peruvian flavour. This results in hybrid dishes that are hard to be considered either only Chinese or Peruvian. One of the many examples is Chaufa rice, which has rice originating from the East, combined with local spices to flavour it.
The Japanese influence, on their turn, mostly adds to existing dishes in Peruvian eateries and restaurants rather than introducing their entire own kitchen. This is the same idea as the Chinese influences, where the Japanese cuisine creates for example the appetizer tequeños (a type of dumplings served with guacamole) and tiradito (ceviche variation), where it is hard to distinguish its original roots.
Other international influences
As you might notice, Lima has a lot of different influences in its rich kitchen. Of all other international influences the Afro-Peruvian might be the most evident, with influences in dished like Cau-Cau (potatoes, rice and chilly) and Chicha Morada (drink of purple corn). Besides that, you will find plenty of Italian and other South American restaurants to eat the typical pizza, pasta or steak.
Also read our post about where you can taste these great dishes for an affordable price. Or read some great tips about eating safely in a local restaurant.
And remember that we invite you with open arms in the kitchen of our Pariwana hostel in Lima!