The art of not-getting-ripped-off looms large in the skillset of the experienced traveller. Whether budget-backpacker or more-money-than-sense, knowing that you’re paying over the odds, or that the same thing can be purchased cheaper around the corner, is a fatal sign of a poor exponent of the art of travel.
One of the most enchanting aspects of an adventure through Peru is the variety and extent of the street cuisine; equal in taste and authenticity to food found in hotels, shops and restaurants, and yet much of it available for one Peruvian sol (around US$0.30 or £0.20). It is at the wheeled street stalls (called ambulantes) that you will dine like a local, and finally at fair, local prices.
Peru is a Mecca of sweet foods, yet far away from a Nestle or a Cadbury’s. Churros are the most famous sweet in Peru, consisting of long, crispy strips of deep-fried dough sprinkled in sugar.
A FRUITY, SWEET SLICE OF PINEAPPLE & WATERMELON
Fresh and refreshing, delicious and healthy, but most of all convenient; large fruit chopped up into bitesize chunks, saving you the hassle of preparing this snack before you venture out. Available for one sol on most street corners or small shops.
WARM BREAKFAST WITH QUINOA, MACA, & KIWICHA
The standard hostel or hotel breakfast fare of bread and jam (and eggs if you’re lucky) can grow repetitive. A tastier and more adventurous alternative can be found in Peru’s hot breakfast street food. Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain crop, kiwichi an annual flowering plant with edible leaves and seeds, and maca a root vegetable. Each is served in a cup and will cost one sol.
Additionally you can get a fresh sandwich with egg, cheese and avocado (or palta). They offer a tasty, substantial and largely nutritious alternative to the standard breakfast you have had all your life. Better yet they get you out onto the cobblestone streets and dirt paths, ready to explore what Peru has to offer.
HOT TEA FOR COOL ANDEAN EVENINGS – EMOLIENTE
There is a tea in Peru – which you will not find in shops and restaurants – called emoliente. Again, for one sol it can be found at the ambulantes of the Peruvian streets, where the local people will be queueing up to warm themselves with it on a cool evening. It provides the warmth needed to keep wandering as the chill dusk descends.
ANDEAN TREATS FOR EVERY OCCASION – HABAS, PLATANO DULCE, & CANCHITAS
In between meals it’s still important – or sometimes just enjoyable – to eat. Long treks and tiring architecture tours can require extra fueling. Peru has many types of snacks; sweet, salty or spicy.
Some of the most famous are: habas, platano dulce, papas or canchitas. Each one is an ideal aperitif for a beer or a pisco sour.
HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH YET? PICARONES
Picarones are a deep-fried bread drizzled in honey, resembling something like a doughnut. Not necessarily the healthiest snack option, but definitely good value and full of energy.
WHAT SAY YOU ABOUT QUAIL EGGS?
A rare delicacy in many part of the world, but standard street food in Peru, and very delicious and healthy. You can get between 4 and 6 for one sol.
The street food of Peru will take you out to where the cities and towns breathe, shower you with new and exotic textures and flavours, and all the while spare your wallet for greater adventures.
Bon Appétit! Buen Provecho!