Are you a foodie? Do you enjoy experiencing other cultures through their food? Then need to book your trip to Peru NOW and sample the food in Lima Peru!! Peru has won the Best South American Culinary Destination awarded by the World Travel Awards, eight times with the most recent in 2019. Peruvian food is diverse both in the flavors and types of food available. But food in Peru is also widely diverse throughout its various regions. Food is important to the people here in Peru and one of the most enjoyable ways to explore Peruvian culture is through its people and the food.
The cuisine in Peru is generally meat centric which may make vegetarians or vegans believe they will not have the opportunity to really explore and enjoy the many flavors of Peru. Yes, it may be a bit more challenging, but it is definitely possible for vegan and vegetarian foodies to enjoy eating Peruvian food favorites during a trip to Lima, Peru.
In my opinion, there are 5 fun and delicious ways to explore the food in Lima Peru you don’t want to miss when you travel to Peru. All of these activities are perfect for all types of eaters including vegetarians and vegan.
Eat ceviche – the most iconic dish in Peruvian food
Ceviche is most often made with fresh fish or cooked seafood, but it is
possible to find vegan and vegetarian ceviche in Lima. Some
restaurants offer mushroom ceviche, mango ceviche or a mixto ceviche made witha combination of fresh vegetables.
What makes this dish so amazing is the marinade called leche de tigre, Tiger’s milk. Just e sure when ordering a vegetarian or vegan ceviche at a restaurant that isn’t strictly vegetarian, to ask how they make their leche de tigre. Typically the marinade is flavored with fish stock and may contain dairy or mayonnaise depending on their recipe.
Visit a local market
Local markets are the best way to really absorb any culture and also one of the most exciting ways to see the variety of products available in Peru. Just about every town in Peru has markets you can explore. In the markets you have the opportunity to see and buy exotic fruits you may have never seen before. You can also peruse the varieties of vegetables, dried beans, grains and cheeses. And best of all markets are teaming with activity and locals and so you can conduct your exploration along side them.
If you have a little bit of Spanish, use it to talk with the sellers about the flavors of the fruits, how to cook unfamiliar vegetables or dried products. It truly is one of my favorite experiences and something I never get tired of doing.
The two best markets to visit in Lima are the Mercado No 1 de Surquillo which is located super close to Miraflores and the Mercado Magdalena which is a little further out from many of the hotel and tourist areas but is worth making the trip.
Most of these areas are pretty safe but like in any large city or crowded location, be cautious with your things and don’t be showy with your money or phone.
Take a cooking class and explore Peruvian food
Getting hands on with the food while traveling and participating in a cooking class is one of the BEST way to get close up with the food and flavors in a culture.
- It’s hands-on which makes it fun.
- You are working with a local who knows the food and ingredients.
- It’s an opportunity to taste the delicious and mouthwatering food you help create.
- You learn cooking techniques.
In Lima, there are some vegetarian and vegan options available for cooking
experiences but they may be more challenging to find. Come and work with me
in my Flavors of Peru Vegetarian Cooking Class.
In the class you get to experience all the above but in addition, I also give you hints about where to find ingredients back home and a beautiful printable e-book containing all the recipes we prepare in the class. With the hints and recipe books you should be able to recreate our dishes back at home and continue to enjoy your Peruvian food experiences.
Sample the street food in Lima
Just because you are vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t still experience some street food in Lima Peru. Unfortunately for vegans, this may prove to be a little more challenging but NOT 100% impossible!!
Ponche, a drink made from heavy cream that is similar in consistency, sweetness and flavor to eggnog. They serve ponche with a bit of Cusqueña Negra, a dark beer popular in Peru in the bottom of the cup. It’s pretty tasty! The dairy in this drink, unfortunately makes it unfriendly for vegans.
Picarones, Peruvian donuts are made from sweet potatoes and yellow pumpkin (variety of squash here) that is mixed with flour, yeast and water into a sticky dough. The dough, flavored with cinnamon, anise and cloves is shaped into rings and fried.
After frying the picarones, they are drizzled with a homemade syrup usually made from a local fruit and chancaca, a form of sugar. In my last picarone tasting, I sampled a homemade syrup made from figs — so delicious.
Make sure your picarones are fresh and hot because that’s when they taste the best. In most cases, picarones aren’t made with any eggs or dairy so likely they are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Churros and Yuquitas
Churros came to Peru and other Latin American countries courtesy of the Spaniards. In Peru, they are commonly dusted with sugar or served with a dip of dulce de leche or lucuma cream. In some places, they are hollow and flavors such as dulce de leche are piped inside. Vegans, I suggest asking about the ingredients in your churros to make sure they don’t contain eggs, as there are versions of churros made with and made without egg.
Yuquitas are another fried dough that is made from cassava. They are delicious and greateaten sweet or savory. These may be harder to find in Lima but if you run across them, they are worth a try.
Taste the local fruits
You don’t want to miss an opportunity to try the many exotic local fruits while you are here. Stop by a local market or store to pick them up to try, or even better, sample one of the delicious juices made from local fruits. Some you may find at home too, but I promise you they don’t taste as good as they do here!
Lucuma, Peru’s most popular fruit
Lucuma, Gold of the Incas is a fruit you can’t travel to Peru without trying. It’s delicate and doesn’t travel well and is also prized by the Peruvians so finding it available fresh outside of Peru is extremely unlikely. It’s not a fruit you want to really eat on it’s own as it has a texture similar to egg yolks and is kind of weird. Where it really shines is in dessert and I think the BEST way to try lucuma is in ice cream. Many other local desserts are made from lucuma and worth a try as well.
Other fruits you don’t want to miss
Maracuya, another super popular fruit in Peru and most commonly appears in juices and desserts. It’s the perfect combination of sour and sweet.
Grenadilla is related to maracuya but is sweeter in flavor. Don’t be turned off (like I was the first time) by the strangeness of this fruit because it is crazy delicious.
Pitaya are these long green pods sold in the markets that you open and eat the fruit surrounding the beans inside. The texture is a bit fuzzy like a peach but if you can get past that, it’s pretty tasty.
Aguaymanto or picchuberries are these golden berries about the size of a grape. They have a unique flavor that is sharply tart but work great on yogurt, desserts and in juices.
These are just a few of the amazing exotic fruits found in Peru and in Peruvian food. The best place to find what is in season and largest variety is in the markets. Don’t be afraid to try them out and asking the local market vendors about their favorites may lead you to some exciting discoveries.
Planning your trip
As the largest city in Peru, you will find the most variety of flavors in the food in Lima Peru. If you have anytime during your visit to spend some time here, I hope you definitely focus your time on exploring the many flavors and of Peruvian food in Lima.
If you have any questions about travel to Peru or my cooking class, please be sure to contact me via the chat function, leave me a comment here on this post or send me a message using the contact form.