- Chicha morada: This refreshing purple corn drink is blended with hints of pineapple and cinnamon and was usually fermented back in the day when the Inca’s first starting drinking it. It is commonly served on lunch menus and almost any café (even the more American ones) will have it. Chicha can also be made with quinoa and regular yellow corn.
- Maracuya: A.k.a. passion fruit ! Passion fruit juices can be found in any cafe or restaurant, but the best place to have it is in the San Pedro market. In the U.S. passion fruit is pretty difficult to come by and when you do, it’s usually over-priced. It’s native to Peru (and cheap), so drink it to your heart’s content!
- Te Macho: A drink many tourists are aware of, but this tea is just what you need if you happen to visit during the chilly winter months of June, July and August like I did. It’s a delightful mix of rum, tea, lime and spices like clove and cinnamon for the occasional alcohol-lover.
- Pisco Sour: This one is probably the most well-known drink in all of Peru. To this day, Chile and Peru argue over who invented Pisco sour, the alcoholic drink popular in both countries that mixes Brandy with lime juice, simple syrup and an egg white to produce a sour, refreshing drink that you will find in every Peruvian bar. Chilean and Peruvian pisco sours are made quite differently, so in either country you’d be trying something new!
- Crema de sauco (from Inkaria): Inkaria is basically a wine café specific to Peru, where young locals go to drink local wine and relax any day of the week. The wines and liquors are locally-brewed and very authentic, ranging from the crema de sauco, a dessert wine made from blueberries to the very bitter liquor made from 20 different plants. Inkaria is another place most tourists are unaware of, but definitely a place for the wine fanatic.
Food for the Occasional Glutton
- Empanadas: These were one of my favorite snack foods in Peru. They are essentially crispy pastries stuffed with your choice of meat (but usually minced chicken) and served with a wedge of lime. Accompanied by some maracuya juice or chicha morada, it makes for a perfect afternoon treat!
- Ceviche: If you visit Peru and don’t try the ceviche did you even go there? Lima is the ceviche capital of the world, but the ceviche in a particular restaurant in Cusco, Punto Mar, isn’t half bad. Some locals and long-time expats suggested I visit Punto Mar especially for their Leche de tigre (Tiger’s Milk), another form of a seafood blend-ceviche served up in a wine glass.
- Guinea Pig: Cuy has been popular in Peru ever since the Incas began domesticating it for eating purposes. I didn’t have the guts to try it, but it is definitely recommended for meat lovers and those that have no problem trying different kinds of animal meat. From reliable sources, I’ve heard it tastes like chicken! The best place to try it in the Cusco region is in the tiny town of Tipon.
- Aji de gallina: Aji is a spicy sauce made from Peruvian chili peppers that’s served with many foods. Aji de gallina is chicken covered in aji, as its name directly suggests. For those game for spicy food, this one’s for you!
- Trucha frita: Another dish covered in almost every lunch or dinner menu, fried trout is in great abundance in Peru and enjoyed with fresh salad and white rice.
- Peruvian churros: The best ones are found on carts in the middle of the Cusco streets for just 1 sol. They’re different from churros you’ve tried before, I assure you! The traditional ones here don’t have ridges like Mexican churros that are so common to the U.S. Churros in Peru have a dulce de leche filling or manjar in Spanish on the inside. You can munch on these delectable treats as you march down those narrow, charming streets.