To kick off my summer, I spent a week in Peru climbing Machu Picchu and hanging out in Cusco. Aside from enjoying the beautiful sites that the Cusco area has to offer, I also indulged in the culinary specialties of the city. Honestly, some of the dishes were a bit weird, but I guarantee you they are must-try dishes.
Here are my top three recommendations of what to eat in Peru.
I was lucky enough to visit Cusco during its holiday Corpus Christi, when hundreds of street vendors filled La Plaza de San Francisco. Each vendor sold its own variation on chiriuchu, tempting locals and tourists alike to eat its version of the festive dish. We gave in to the street food, but it was one of the highlights of the trip.
Our bowl of chiriuchu had a little bit of everything in it: a slice of cornbread, corn kernels, guinea pig, sausage, jerky, chicken, and a slice of cheese, all topped with seaweed and fish eggs to round out the surf and turf dish.
My personal favorite was the tender alpaca meat served at virtually every restaurant in Cusco. They were often seasoned and served kabob-style on the streets, but I managed to snap this picture (and devour this meal) in a restaurant.
As alpacas originated in Peru, it’s understandable that alpaca meat has not spread and popularized. However, it’s lower in fat than other red meats and is extraordinarily tender and delicious, so perhaps it’ll make its debut as a new meat option.
Yep. No joking. Guinea pig is a common food in Peru. This one was dressed up for the tourists (gotta get that Instagram post, right?) but the real one was served sans innards and in more manageable pieces. The meat was a bit gamey and I personally couldn’t get past the tiny claws that were still attached to the leg I was consuming, but I don’t regret trying it at all. It’s definitely a must-have experience, and you can totally gross out your friends and family when you get back home.
If climbing Machu Picchu was on your bucket list (as it was on mine), make sure you squeeze in a few days to spend in Cusco so you can experience the food and culture as much as possible. You won’t regret it.