The Traditional Food of Cusco, Peru

You won´t be disappointed by the amazing traditional Peruvian food of Cusco!

People eat guinea pig in Peru?! Yes, the rumors are true. When you visit Cusco, you’ll get the chance to try this classic food for yourself. Not that adventurous? Don’t worry, because there are a ton of other decadent traditional Peruvian meals for you to try as well. We’re all about helping you have the traditional Peruvian experience, and there’s nothing truer than connecting to a culture through it’s food.

The traditional food of Peru has been calling the world’s attention for the past few years now- It’s no secret how popular ceviche has become. But if you’re heading for Cusco and Machu Picchu, you’re not going to find the same seafood dishes you may have heard of from abroad. You’ll find something potentially better. The rich, smoky dishes of the highlands offer a whole other side of Peru’s incredible cuisine just waiting to be discovered. Full of hearty meats, hundreds of varieties of potatoes and vegetables and herbs used since the Incas began eating them, this is your starter’s guide to everything you should eat in Cusco! Prepare your palates…

Our Favorite Dishes

Main Meals

  1. Cuy al horno: But, of course, the guinea pig. Called “cuy”, it’s often baked in the oven. Served like this, you may get a startling dish with the whole animal splayed out on a platter (such as the barbecued pigs on a platter in some countries). Or, you may have it served already portioned out onto your plate with a side of tagliatelle pasta and baked potatoes. Like this, you probably won’t even realize it’s guinea pig! (A plus for some.) For locals of Cusco, it’s usually prepared for special occasions but you can order it in most restaurants.
  2. Pachamanca: Pachamanca is the cooking technique in which an oven (Huatia) is made into the ground. The food is wrapped with herbs and spice, buried in the dirt, and a fire smokes it from above adding an incredible flavor. Often, it’s left cooking all day long. More than just a meal, Pachamanca is a cultural experience.
  3. Chiriuchu: Meaning “cold food” in Quechua, this is a dish of roasted cuy, boiled chicken, jerky or chalona (a dried, salted meat), sausages, fish eggs, cheese, corn, dried seaweed and rocoto pepper. It’s said to bring all of the regions of Peru together (you may notice that the ingredients come from all different parts of the country), and is traditionally eaten for Corpus Christi in May or June.

Classic Soups and Stews

  1. Puchero: A stew traditionally also called “Timpu”, it’s made with lamb, beef, sausage and a wide array of vegetables and legumes. It’s usually eaten in February as part of the Carnival celebration.
  2. Chairo: A local soup, this is made with lamb or beef, tripe, bacon, potatoes, squash, carrots and cabbage. It’s eaten often, and a hearty warm meal for cold months.
  3. Adobo: A pork stew made with chicha (corn beer), this is especially eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck, as the pork symbolizes abundance.
  4. Solterito de Cuchicara: This is a vegetable stew with boiled potatoes, carrots, beans, onion and seaweed (and sometimes strips of bacon on top).
  5. Capchi de Habas (or K’Apchi de Zetas): A vegetarian dish! This is a simple and rich stew of mushrooms, lima beans, potatoes and milk, served with a side of rice.
  6. Sara Lawa: An Andean cream soup made with ground corn, potatoes, cheese and eggs, then seasoned with turmeric.

Sides

If you’re out and about looking for a snack, or maybe just getting a small dish, don’t miss these local favorites.

  1. Chicharrones: Pieces of pork deep fried in lard, served with potatoes, dried flavored corn, and an onion mint salad.
  2. Choclo con Queso: Boiled corn with slices of fresh, local cheese.
  3. Tamales: Made from white corn flour and stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Usually eaten on Sunday.

Street Food

Don’t hesitate to stop by the local food vendors- do as the locals do! These Peruvian classics can be found in most parts of the country, sold on the street.

  1. Anticuchos: Cow hearts marinated and grilled to perfection, usually served with a potato. Tastes like beef, but they usually have chicken if that’s too adventurous for you!
  2. Salchipapa: Sliced grilled hotdog with a side of french fries and every type of sauce imaginable.
  3. Quinoa: Quinoa as a drink! No wonder the Incas were so tough…Like a warm oatmeal tea, amazing on chilly nights or mornings.

Let us know how you like all of it- we know you will!

Do you have other favorite traditional dishes from Cusco? Share them below with us!