In no particular order, here are some of the dishes, drinks, and snacks that made my friend (born in Peru) cry joyfully as her taste buds sentimentally remembered childhood meals and made me want to hike farther and longer so I could justify eating twice as much as usual.
- Lucuma ice cream – a sweet, orange, creamy but fruity flavor that mixes well with vanilla. It is also used to flavor many other foods, including Casino biscuits.
- Chicha morada juice – derived from purple corn, chicha morada is a unique sweet flavor that is found as a candy or a juice.
- Ceviche – nobody can pass through Peru without eating ceviche, of course. Seafood is both fresh and refreshing in Lima near the ocean, but be mindful not to eat the spicy red peppers mixed in.
- Sublime chocolate bars – A standard chocolate bar in Peru, but tastes rich and smooth.
- Cuy – for the more adventurous, but guinea pig are a traditional food from the countryside that (cliché or not) tastes a bit like a more chewy chicken. Those who are even more adventurous could also try saltadito (guinea pig innards).
- Humitas – these were likely my favorite food of the entire trip, and I was lucky enough to have them homemade each time (and even help to prepare them). Prepared similar to a tamale, but the flour mix is combined with sugar for a sweet snack inside of a corn husk and then toasted.
- Mazamorra – homemade soup, which I loved enough for thirds when made with pumpkin (mazamorra de calabaza)
- Granadilla – my all-time favorite fruit from the trip. It was a challenge to open because you have to carefully peel the harder skin without puncturing the soft inner skin, but inside was the most rewarding and juicy snack.
- Tejas – candy, preferably by the brand Helena, which resembles a truffle.
- Lomo saltado – steak dinner cooked in a salty sauce and served with fries. It demonstrates the Asian influence over Peruvian cuisine. (http://taste-of-peru.com/peruvian_culture/chinese.php)
- Empanadas – baked goods stuffed with meat, as an addicting snack or even meal when larger.
- Alfajores – the first time that I tried any caramel-filled and powder sugar dusted alfajores was actually in Argentina, but they are delicious throughout South America.
- Coffee beans – the coffee is to die for, in particular ‘La Cholita‘ that you can buy in the local markets of Cuzco, but the natural beans growing outdoors are also tasty and surprisingly sweet when you bite into them.
- Pisco sours – this country wants every tourist to drink a pisco sour, but more importantly you should try a shot of pisco itself (preferably at a local’s 3pm dinner event with your best friend’s drunk uncles playing the guitar in the background and their wives starting a congo line.
- Inka Kola– I’m not a fan of soda, and to honest I might not choose to drink this back home, but I cannot explain how incredibly refreshing this yellow-colored bubbly liquid is after hours of hiking.
Coca Leaves – Essential to survival in altitude, even for those from Colorado like myself. Hold three high, blow them to the mountains, bless the Apu and pay your respects, then fold them up into thirds, chew, and place in the inside of your cheeks to alleviate altitude sickness.