In Peru, if there is one thing they love, it’s sugar. Everything tastes a little sweeter here. The most noticeable differences between things here and in the US are with beverages, but in general, sugary snacks seem to be a part of their daily diet…and are incredibly delicious.
The first sweet shock I had was with the wine. A big fan of red wine, I was excited to sample the Peruvian variety, as it’s not something readily available in the States. So I headed to the store and picked up a bottle of Borgoña, their signature grape. When I went home and sampled it, I was shocked! What looked like dark, dry full-bodied wine was in fact sweeter than a Port and incredibly light. It literally drinks like fruit punch. This sweetness (I learned in my recent wine and Pisco tour) is a result of the dry, desert climate where the grapes are grown. And after trying (and failing) to get Julio to split a bottle of the traditional Tinto with me, I got the impression that Peruvians are hooked on the stuff.
My next sweet encounter came when a few days later I had a craving for juice. I went to the store and picked up some Naranja nectar (which comes in large or small juice box containers). And again, expecting something completely different, I was taken back by the sweetness and almost artificial taste of the beverage. In looking at the ingredients it is A; a Coca-Cola product (so you know it can’t be good for you), and B; made up of a cocktail of colors, nectars, acids, and vitamins, as opposed to just good old-fashioned juice.
But sweet seems to be something that people in Peru just can’t get enough of. Small corner stands are stocked full of chocolates, candies, cookies and ice creams, and at almost every restaurant, there’s a dessert on the menu
I’m not going to lie; I’m a big fan of the sweet. But after living here for a month, I think I will be ready to go back to more fresh and natural flavors and foods. I’ll also probably need to pay a visit to my dentist!
Holly Brinkman is a researcher and blogger for the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.