Peruvian food is a wonderful mish mash – a mélange, if you will – of Spanish, Chinese, Italian, West African and even Japanese influences…at least that’s what Wikipedia says. They have their seafood dishes (ceviché), their chicken dishes (chicken fried rice) and their beef dishes (beef empanadas) but all you need to know is that all of it tastes ridiculously good. For those Peruvian virgins, below is a starter list of things to try. Please go and get deflowered:
1) Pollo Saltado – Chicken, rice, onions and tomatoes topped with French fries. Did you read that and appreciate it to its fullest? Cause that whole concoction is pure unadulterated magic. I am no expert at Spanish but I believe “pollo saltado” translates to, “eat this or have sex with it. Either way it shall make you happy.”
2) Con Bistec Apanado – Pounded steak with pesto spaghetti. Yeah, it sounds like nothing special until you jam it into your mouth and realize that your whole life has been worthless up until this moment.
3) Papa a la Huancana – A hard boiled egg/ boiled potato appetizer topped with cheese sauce. It looks like it would taste like ass (you know, in the bad way). But one bite and you will be hooked.
4) Anticucho – Grilled cow heart. Don’t freak – it tastes like really good, really tender steak. It comes on a stick and is typically an appetizer, but more importantly you get the caché of saying that you eat (and enjoy) cow heart.
5) Aji Verde – A spicy, glorious, Peruvian green sauce that comes in a nondescript squeeze bottle that sits on every table of every Peruvian joint. You will put this sauce on everything. You will become addicted to it. You will ask the restaurant what’s in it and you will get this answer; “Many things.” You will look on the Internet for the recipe and you will get dozens of variations. (Some say it is mint. Others say it is from the rare Huacatay plant. Rumors are it even has mayo!) A word of advice: Give up trying to find out the answers and just bathe in the deliciousness that is the Peruvian green sauce. (Literally. Bathe in it literally.)
6) Bistec a lo Pobre – Grilled steak served with a side of fried bananas, fried egg, French fries, and white rice. This is probably the best dish on a Peruvian menu. It’s a mountain of food that you will devour easily and refuse to share with even your most cherished friend. It is that good. If you do get the Bistec a lo Pobre, make sure you go on a long jog before eating it and then carve out a chunk of time for a long nap after because eating this dish is a commitment.
7) Pisco Sours – Called “The National Drink of Peru,” this drink consists of pisco, sugar, lime juice and pasteurized egg whites. It is frothy, sweet boozy righteousness in a glass. This is definitely a “creeper cocktail” so be careful. You’ll knock back three of these bad boys and think nothing of it – then fifteen minutes later the Pisco Sours knock back. Hard.
As an added bonus, besides tasting so damn good, Peruvian food hits every hipster note spot on. It’s foreign, it’s hard to find, it’s cheap and it sounds cool. Throw in a porkpie hat and a Wilco concert and you’ll be wallowing in an oasis of hipster goodness.