What can be more satisfying than getting immersed in a new culture than by its food? Peru’s essence can be captured through its cuisine, rated as one of the best worldwide; not just by its tourists but also by many experts. Everyone who visits this famous gastronomic country talks about its seafood or specialties that usually center meat and poultry. However, what about its vegetarian food?
The purpose of this article is not to talk about recipes; it’s to encourage vegetarian travelers. Sampling new often-unusual foods and to discover new ways of preparing or combining familiar ingredients. Peru has a lot of variety, freshness and innovation. I’ll mention some not-to-be missed dishes with countrywide popularity labeled as “national favorites” just to make you wish you were here.
A very traditional one is “Locro de Zapallo” a vegetarian standard found on most set menus. Quinoa Vegetable Soup needs to be mentioned, it’s known as the “mother grain” in los Andes. “Tamalitos verdes” – Savory corn tamales with spinach. Vegetarian Quinotto from“Aguas Calientes”, Machu Picchu. “Picarones” – Doughnut fried dough made from pumpkin, sweet potato, drizzled in syrup from San Jose – Chincha. A few more but not less important are Quinoa crepes with cape gooseberry marmalade and orange sauce from Cuzco – Sacred Valley. “Papas a la Huancaina” – you can find this meal almost all over the country.
In Lima, San Isidro and Miraflores have the most interesting; and refined restaurants. If you search online for vegetarian restaurants in Peru more than 50 results will come up. The best rated are AlmaZen located in Miraflores, Lima. Sayael located in Cantuarias 285, Ave La Paz corner, Lima. Raw Café located in Miraflores, Lima. El Manantial located in Jr Carabaya 415, Lima. Veggie Pizza located in Barranco, Lima. The Hare Krishna Rest located in callao 480, Govinda, Lima which is very famous for it’s vegetarian Chinese food.
Homemade food is an alternate option as well; to seek unfamiliar ingredients and preparations that provide new tastes. There is even a vegetarian-vegan express website called Pacchamama where you can order non-meat products. Finally; let’s not forget the desert! There are a lot of cafes with the traditional “arroz con leche”, truffles, cakes and mousses. Hardworking people have made of Lima an excellent option of varied menu of Peruvian and international food. Nothing brings strangers together more pleasantly than food, despite the existence of language barriers.
Dorothy Matamoros is a researcher and blogger with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.