Following the trail of aromas and flavors, come along on a tour through the gastronomic regions of Peru.
Let's start with the Peruvian sea and seafood, which is the delight of coastal inhabitants. The indispensable ingredient here is without a doubt the hot chili pepper known as ají. Mixed with fish braised in freshly-squeezed lemon juice, it gives life to the popular dish cebiche. Ají lends color and aroma in the spicy shellfish stew called picante de mariscos, the parihuela chowder, arroz con mariscos (rice and shellfish) and the pescado a lo macho, where the fish is served with a colorful shellfish sauce.
The cuisine along the north coast is served and devoured with passion. Premier dishes include arroz con pato (duck and rice), seco de chavelo (fish stew with roasted green bananas), cabrito con frejoles (goat and beans cooked in the fermented corn beverage chicha de jora), shambar (beef and bean soup) and the sudado de cangrejos (steamed crab).
In Lima, meanwhile, gourmets can enjoy a wide variety of dishes that are the result of a wide range of foreign influences, as well as all the regional gastronomic variants. Ají de gallina, causa limeña (mashed potato and fish), arroz verde con pollo (chicken served over a bed of coriander rice), carapulcra (spicy pork stew), lomo saltado (sautéed beef) and the traditional anticucho (skewered oxheart) feature among the main favorites in Lima, no to mention the mouth-watering tacu-tacu, fried beans mixed with rice.
Highland cooking still maintains a pagan relationship with the earth, a notion that is ever present in all the local celebrations. The most typical Andean dish is the pachamanca, which is cooked in a hole in the ground over hot stones. Ingredients include green beans, potatoes, corn and several types of meat seasoned with herbs and spices.
Soup dishes include pucheros, patasca and caldo de cabeza de cordero (sheepshead broth), which are favorites when the cold sets in. Beef is often freeze-dried into charqui, while cuy (guinea pig) is served up in a variety of sauces and stews. Irresistible entrées include papa a la huancaína (potato drenched in a spicy cheese sauce) or ocopa (in peanut sauce).
The southern Arequipa highlands, meanwhile, is home to such temptations as rocoto relleno (stuffed chili pepper) and chupe de camarones, while in Cusco visitors can try their hand at cordero al horno (roast lamb).
The food served up in the jungle has a lot to do with Man's harmonious relationship with nature. Recipes such as the juane (chicken-and rice tamale), inchi capi (chicken served with peanuts and toasted corn) and tacacho de platanos a la brasa (barbecued bananas) are a delight, surprising the uninitiated with their ingredients. The local game is also unusual: sajino en cecina (wild boar), lomo saltado de majado and apichado de gallina de monte (wildfowl) are just some of the magical specialties of the jungle and Peru's cooking in general.
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