When one thinks of the best food destinations in the world, oftentimes they mention places such as France…known for elevated culinary offerings, or Italy… acclaimed for its fresh pastas and succulent farm-to-table ingredients, or perhaps Japan…that features more Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo than in any other city. But, did you know that the country that has been named “Best Culinary Destination” at the international gala of the World Travel Awards for eight consecutive years is actually Peru?
In this next installment of “Positive Vibes” we are thrilled to share with you why Peru has been recognized as one of the world’s best culinary destinations. Peruvians say that cooking is part of their passion, tradition, health, culture, and customs. Its multicultural heritage and biodiversity are ever apparent and quickly revealed though their cuisine.
Here are some of the top reasons why Peru’s cuisine has gained such lavish acclaim:
- Cross-Cultural diversity – Peruvians have mastered food fusion and elevated it to an art. The mix of flavors in Peruvian cuisine reflects the mix of cultures that have arrived in Peru over hundreds of years. Influences in their cuisine have been absorbed, starting from the traditions of the Incas to just about every continent over the past 500 years. In the 16th century the Spanish colonization brought Moorish staples such as onions, spices, and honey-sweetened desserts – used in many of today’s Peruvian delights. In the 19th century, Peru saw immigration from the Japanese, Chinese laborers, Italian settlers, African slaves, and beyond that have helped create the ultimate fusion of flavors that Peru has intermingled with their own roots to create the delectable cuisine they share today.
- Biodiversity at its Best – The easiest way to guarantee the freshest ingredients is to employ the bounties of each region and season. Simply put, Peru has perfected this approach. From the mountains to the jungle to the coast, each of Peru’s three geographical regions showcase their own traditional recipes – hand-crafted with local ingredients. In the mountains, quinoa, potatoes, and corn are harvested, while limes and grapes are cultivated by the coast, and from the jungle, the Amazon River plays host to fresh fish catches. As an added benefit, it’s no secret that this system of using fresh farm-to-table food also helps support the local economy and build community – certainly a positive for all!
- Healthy Eating – Ancient Peruvians discovered healthy eating long before Spanish colonization began. In fact, many of today’s “superfoods” originated from Peru such as: quinoa, maca, camu camu berries, purple corn, pichuberry, and a fruit called aguaje. If you are traveling around Peru, take time to try one of the more than 120 types of quinoa, touted in research as a source for lowering the risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol; sip on an ancient healthy drink called “chicha morada” made from purple corn; and boost your vitamin C with a camu camu smoothie, said to have anti-inflammatory benefits too.
- Packed Full of Protein Choices – For those seeking to indulge in more of a high protein diet, Peru's options are sure to please. Quinoa is a fantastic source of plant-based protein containing all nine amino acid as well as fiber. Another specialty in Peru is marinated roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken that is often served in a tangy green sauce made with fresh peppers, cilantro, and garlic. Of course, we cannot mention Peruvian protein without highlighting "ceviche" – such a popular dish that the country named a holiday in its honor. This dish is made with fresh raw fish that is marinated in juices of lime or bitter orange and mixed with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper.
- Reinvention and Imagination – Grown from a fusion that has evolved ingeniously by integrating indigenous Peruvian ingredients with influences from across the globe, Peru's chefs continue raising the bar on cuisine at a global level. Whether grabbing a bite at one of the country's famed street food stalls that serve favorites, like ceviche and potatoes covered with “ají” sauce and cheese sauce – to dining in some of the world's best eateries, like Peru's restaurants Central, Maido, and Astrid y Gastón that have been awarded among the top 50 best restaurants in the world for two consecutive years – Peru's cuisine continues to enjoy a gastronomical boom, continually reinventing and re-imagining dishes to come up with inspired creations just waiting to be savored.
We invite you to visit Peru where centuries of history come alive before your very eyes. Discover her dazzling highlights -- Lima, Machu Picchu, the Incan wonders of Cusco and much more on our 9-day Peru and Ancient Civilizations Travel Program . See the dramatic peaks and valleys of the Andes and the pre-Columbian cities that have been carved into its landscape. Stroll the historic city of Cusco that seamlessly blends Spanish and Incan cultures. Then, travel by train along the Urubamba River to Sacred Valley and the foothills of the Andes, and arrive at fabled Machu Picchu, “Lost City of the Incas." Don't forget to savor the flavors of the world's "Best Culinary Destination" every step of the way for the most in-depth and vibrant experience in Peru that you are sure to love!