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Peruvian cuisine

Peruvian food is determined by the geography of the country, its climate and the customs of their people.

There are several regions with completely different climate, that allows several different typical dishes depending on the region were people live.

By its location near the ecuator line, Peru should have a very hot tropical weather, but the reality is that the weather is defined by a big mountain chain, The Andes, which starts a couple of hundreds of kilometers in the south of Peru and ends also few kilometers in the north of Peru. This chain of mountains divides the country in three geographical regions, The Coastm next to the ocean, where the capital Lima is located, the High Lands or Andes where the old capital Cusco is located and the Amazon jungle, which occupies more than a half of all the peruvian territory.


AjiThe mayor of the ingredients found in every peruvian dish are rice, potatoes, chichen, pork, lamb, and fish. Most of these meals include one of the different kinds of "aji", or peruvian hot pepper, which mainly are: yellow aji pepper, red aji pepper, red rocoto pepper, and many other which are imposible to translate.

Most of this kinds of pepper are difficult to find in any other country, so it is very difficult to reproduce exactly the same way of preparation of most of the typical dishes.

Most of those ingredients, like chicken, pork and lamb, where introduced to Peru 500 years ago, when Spaniards came to America. Other ingredients, like potatoes, which is maybe the most worldwide known peruvian food, where found by the spaniards in the Peruvian Andes at that same time and carried to Europe. There are maybe 5 very common kinds of potatoes found in the every day peruvian dishes, and among them, the white and pink potatoes, due to their facility to grow in most kind of weathers, are the ones which are found in many other countries in the world.

Potato history

The earliest such remains of potatoes date to 400 B.C. They were found at archeological sites at Chiripa, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the city of Puno, in the east of Peru, next to the border with Bolivia.

After its discovery by Spanish conquistadors, the potato was taken to Europe.

However, the potato's acceptance in Europe was not met with open arms. Because the potato was not mentioned in the Bible, the clergy deemed them unfit for the human diet.

Spanish records show that it entered Seville in 1570 and was used to feed hospital patients in 1573. It then traveled to Italy, Germany, and into the Orient. Later a royal Swedish edict compelled Swedes to grow the crop.

It took nearly two centuries, following the potato's introduction from South America, before it really achieved common acceptance.

Bill Pitzer and Earle Holland wrote in the New York Times; Peru is the world's potato capital. Two-thirds of the world's potato crops originate in Europe, but the production there cannot compare with the diversity of tubers found in this South American country.

They range in color from purple to blue, from yellow to brown. Sizes and textures vary as well. Some are smalls as nuts; others can be as large as oranges.

The taste of different potatoes varies broadly, explaining why these vegetables are used in all kind of dishes from appetizers to desserts.

Sea Food (Cevicherias)

Cathedral. Lima. When a peruvian go to a restaurant, at lunch time or in a special situation (someone's birthday, for example), they mostly use to go to "Cevicherias". This kind of restaurants serves all kind of sea food. The most traditional meal in Peru, the one that at least in South America represents the Peruvian food, is the Ceviche. This is a cold dish, which mainly consists in pieces of raw fish, cooked by the juice of lemons, served always with onions, camote (one kind of sweet peruvian potato) and of course, peruvian aji pepper.

Comida Criolla (Typical peruvian dishes)

Although most of the daily dishes peruvians eat are also typical dishes, there are lots of also typical dishes that requires several hours in the preparation, so in this days, this food is mostly prepared in restaurants and no in peruvian's homes, at least not in week days.

The Criolla food can be also divided by its regions in at least 5 different kind of restaurants, each representing the typical food of the people who live in certain regions. Each with different taste, different flours, and different ingredients.

Some of the most typical dishes are shown below:

Aji de Gallina: shredded chicken in a spiced milk sauce. Arroz con Pollo: Boiled chicken seasoned with a green sauce. Served always with green rice (rice cooked with albahaca)
Papa Rellena: meat-stuffed potato patties.Adobo de cerdo: Pork sauce, served with white rice.
Papa la Huancaina: Potatoes served with a special spicy sauce, olives, lettuce and egg.Escabeche de pescado: Boiled fish seasoned with onions, aji and lemon juice

Anticuchos: marinated grilled beef heart.
Carapulca: It is made from dried and diced potatoes with pork, steak and rice.
CauCau: Consists of tripe and diced potatoes
Cebiche: Fish or mixed shrimp with lemon. The seafood is cut into small pieces and then mixed with lemon juice and left to sit for 1hr. Next, it is mixed with onions, celery, cilantro, salt and black pepper. The dish is served cold.
Ocopa: boiled potatoes in a seasoned sauce of cheese and nuts
Pachamanca: This is a typical dish from the desert. It consists of lamb, pork, meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a tamale. First, one has to heat rocks on the floor using firewood. When they are hot enough, the food is placed inside a sac and buried in the hot rocks. The food has to be repeatedly checked to see when it is done because the temperature is unstable.
Parihuela: Fish, shrimp crabs, mussels and octopus. Served with yuca and rice.
Rocoto Relleno: Typical dish with meat, onions, peanuts, milk and eggs, everything baked inside of the delicious rocoto (pepper), with potatoes and cheese.
Seco de frejoles: Boiled beans with a lamb stew in green sauce, always served with white rice and raw onions seasoned with lemon and aji.