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popular Peruvian Foods

Peru is the only country so far that Brandon and I have visited more than once.  Whenever we have the opportunity to travel abroad we try to seek out new adventures and destinations but Peru is just one of those countries that keeps calling us back.  Perhaps it’s because it was the very first international trip we had taken, perhaps it’s because we spent a full month in Cusco alone and had time to fall in love with the country and the culture.  Or maybe it’s the food.  Oh my, what delicious Peruvian food!  Unique, flavorful, adventurous, fresh Peruvian food.  Meals that my host family prepared for us 7 years ago still linger on my taste buds.  So let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit my favorite Peruvian foods.

1.  Anticuchos

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Anticuchos, image courtesy of James via Flickr Creative Commons

This street vendor snack of grilled beef heart on a skewer was my all-time favorite food in Peru.  Unfortunately when I first arrived I was too apprehensive to try it.  I mean, what if it was undercooked and I got sick?!  It wasn’t until the last week of our trip during a guided tour of the Sacred Valley that I finally tried it.  The chewy marinated meat was unbelievably good.  On our second trip to Peru I looked desperately in Iquitos for anticuchos but instead had to settle for flavored chips at the airport.  It was NOT the same thing.

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Anticuchos flavored chips!

2.  Lomo Saltado

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Lomo Saltado, image courtesy of James via Flickr Creative Commons

Considering my aversion to having my food touch I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed lomo saltado.  Think beef stir fry mixed with french fries.  No Peruvian dish is complete without some starchy potatoes! Lomo saltado is one of the most traditional and popular Peruvian foods and can be found on almost any restaurant menu.


3.  Sábalo

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Our catch of the day, from top to bottom: Pacu, Sabalo and Peacock Bass

On our journey to the Amazon jungle we were served meals buffet-style and the meat of the day was almost always fish.  While we tried many species of freshwater fish during our stay, such as pacu, catfish and peacock bass, we found sábalo to be the most flavorful.  The fish were always prepared in a simple no-frills manner but they were so yummy.  Oddly enough we caught about 40 piranha during our many fishing trips but never actually ate any!


4.  Ají de Gallina

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Ají de Gallina, image courtesy of Juan Jose Richards Echeverria via Flick Creative Commons

Ají de Gallina is a delicious chicken dish in a spicy cream sauce traditionally served with or over rice.  We learned how to make this dish during a cooking lesson on our first trip but our teacher kindly left out much of the ají peppers that make this meal so spicy.  Unfortunately we’ve had a hard time finding a restaurant near our house that serves this delicious meal but we found one a few hours away that we might eventually visit.


5.  Fried Yucca

Favorite Peruvian Foods
Fried Yucca, image courtesy of Arnold Valentino via Flickr Creative Commons

Peruvian food is a carb-lover’s dream and fried yucca is something one must try if visiting South America.  These starchy sticks taste distinctly different than french fries.  Some people say that it’s stringier but I disagree.  The Peruvian fried yucca that I tried was starchier but that could have been simply because the sticks were thicker than American french fries and weren’t fried in oil.  It just tasted like clean, delicious carbs to me.

Even though there were so many foods I loved I think there were an equal number of foods I hated, which I’ll probably discuss in another post.  For now I need to find something to eat because this post has made me extremely hungry.  Adios!


  1. Everything looks absolutely delicious. I can totally understand the draw to revisit the first country that sparked your wanderlust together. I would love to try the spicy chicken!

  2. All these dishes look wonderful and of course filled with starchy elements which is always hard to resist but oh so good. I would probably try everything.

  3. All the dishes look wonderful. I would have to leave out some of the ají peppers too. I like just a little bit of spice. I think the Lomo Saltado would probably be my favorite. Yum!

  4. I know you said you catch about 40 and ate none BUT can you actually eat piranha? Feeling so curious!

    • We brought 10 fish back but were only served 3 on our plate so either the guides ate the rest or they were served as fish for dinner. So maybe we did eat them, we just didn’t know 🙂

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