If you know me, you know that I enjoy exploring new places, architecture, art, people and culture is something I enjoy. That being said, I tend to get excited about exploring the local cuisine once I visit a new country and even regional food options that may be unique to the area I am traveling to.
Food unifies people and connects travelers to a country long after leaving the physical location. While trying new foods, your brain taps into all five senses –taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. These sensory modalities help us associate with, or influence, the flavors and our personal relationship with food. Tactile sensations, presentation influencing our perception of food, the interconnection of taste and smell, and even the sounds associated with indulging in a variety of foods lead us to build those connections.
As we transform ethnically diverse foods into an experience, it is advantageous to remember that food is internally perceived based on personal preference, but is centered on a set of complex individual sets of expectations, learned associations, and interconnections of the senses. Positive flashbacks with a sense of nostalgia then follow you long after you return home.
Now, I must tell you that I have worked in the food industry for 10 years, therefore have a tendency to critique my environment and the food options a little more stringently but at the same time embrace the little things. So when my friends and I decided to get away from Tampa and spend a few weeks in Peru, I knew we would need to experience all the classical dishes that has put Peru on the map regarding gastronomy.
In 2006, the Export and Tourism Promotion Board of Peru launched the “Peru, Mucho Gusto” campaign –a play on worlds in Spanish meaning not only “Peru, pleasure to meet you,” but the literal translation being “Peru, I like much” and could even be translated as “Peru, full of flavor.” With high-profile food festivals in country and abroad, recognizing Peruvian restaurants around the world for their art of food.
The Organization of American States (OAS) officially designated Peruvian food as part of the “Cultural Heritage of the Americas” in 2011. While Peruvian delegates have pushed to have Peruvian cuisine on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
From Cuy (Guinea Pig) to fresh Ceviche, Pisco Sour to Lomo Saltado. I wanted to take a moment to share some of the classic receipts that I collected and dishes I tried during my journey through Peru.
1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar
1 glass of Pisco (Peruvian Brandy)
Juice of 6 limes
1. Beat the egg white and sugar in a blender
2. Add Pisco, lime juice, ice and angostura bitters
3. Mix well and pour into glasses
Stuffed Avocado (Paltas Rellenas)
Cut green beans
Diced cooked carrots Ranch dressing
1. Cut avocado in half and remove seed
2. Mix cut green beans, diced cooked carrots, ranch dressing and stuff in middle of avocago
3. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese
Ingredients can be substituted for just about anything. Chicken or tuna salad, crab, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, or eggplant. Just add what you like to this dish.
Papas a La Huancaína
10 medium potatoes (new or red a good choice)
1 pound of cheese (Romano, Mexican or feta work well)
2 small jalapeno peppers
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
8 saltine crackers
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
salt and pepper
3 hard cooked eggs
1. Cook and peel potatoes and allow to cool
2. In a blender, mix the cheese, peppers, milk, oil, garlic, crackers, mustard, salt and pepper. The sauce should be fairly thick; add more crackers if not, or add milk is too thick
3. Lay a bed of lettuce in a serving dish and place the potatoes on top. Cover with the sauce. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and place on top of the potatoes. Add black olives if desired
4. This dish can be served slightly cold
Chicken & Vegetables
Ranch dressing (just a little for moisture)
1. Cut large pieces of onion, carrots, green beans and chicken
2. Grill all of the above ingredients and then toss in ranch dressing
3. Eat with rice or just by itself
Red bell pepper
Beef skirt steak
1. Sautee spinach leaves and red bell pepper until slightly soft
2. Lay out beef skirt steak and layer cooked spinach, red bell pepper, and desired cheese
3. Then roll one end to the next of the steak into what looks like a sushi roll. 4. Bake in oven until beef is cooked and cut roll into smaller pieces
Machu Picchu Burger
Lettuce, tomato, onion
Cheese of choice
Ham topped with Fried egg Hamburger bun
1. Grill hamburger patty, ham and fried egg
2. Place on hamburger bun and top with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion
Nachos con Doritos
- Use Doritos instead of tostado chips! Cover with your favorite nacho toppings.
Potato Salad y Tuna Fish (Causa Rellena)
- Layer potato salad in dish, then a layer of tuna salad and then topped with an additional layer of potato salad.
- Add whatever you like in addition or stuff it with something different!
Lomo Saltado jumped with Egg
2 pounds of beef tenderloin or other tender steak
¼ cup red wine or burgundy
2 tablespoons of crushed garlic
2 medium onions cut in strips
1 tomato cut in strips/1 tomato pureed
5 potatoes peeled and cut into strips for frying
1 jalapeno pepper cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 fried egg Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Finely chopped parsley
1. Cut beef into thin strips and marinate in wine for 1 hour
2. Cook garlic in oil over medium heat and add meat. Reserve the juice.
3. Add the tomato puree, salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes
4. Add onion, tomato, jalapeno strip, parsley and vinegar. Combine the juice
from the meat
5. Fry the potatoes in a separate pan and add to other ingredients
6. Serve over white rice and top with fried egg
Ceviche de Pescado
2 pounds of white fish (Mahi Mahi, Sol, Cod)
1 cup of lemon juice
1/3 cup lime juice 1 clove of crushed garlic
2 red peppers, diced
2 finely diced jalapeno peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
Bunch of finely chopped cilantro
2 lettuce leaves per plate
12 to 16 corn on the cobs cut into 2 inch pieces & cooked
3 or 4 sweet potatoes, boiled and peeled
6 to 8 lemons cut in half and placed in center of table
1. Wash and de-bone fish and cut in 1/2 inch chunks, fold lime juice into fish
2. Season with lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Let it marinade for 1 hour
3. Add onion, jalapeno and red pepper and cilantro. Marinade for 1 more hour
4. Serve on a bed of lettuce and add two pieces of corn on the cob and a portion of the sweet potatoes
You can add shrimp, scallops, Octopus, calamari, muscles as well. If you add crab meat add it last, after the fish has marinated.