The email read, “Meet at the door of Starbucks Cafe in the Barranco “parque municipal.” We arrived 10 minutes early and took a seat on the nearest park bench to watch the people around us. There were young children running across the grass with balloons and painted faces, a table of older men playing cards nearby, and a mother feeding her young daughter blue and pink cotton candy.
A few minutes before 4pm we headed for the door of Starbucks where a young Peruvian woman named Luc greeted us, standing beside two 20-something Germans who would be joining us for the tour. A simple search for “things to do in Lima, Peru” on TripAdvisor, introduced us to this four-hour food tour of Lima put on by Food Walking Tour Peru.
They have several different tour options on their website but we opted for the Barranco tour, a nearby Bohemian neighborhood next to where we were staying in Miraflores. For $35 USD each, the tour includes all food, drinks and desserts served at five stops, a 15-minute stop to watch the sunset over the ocean, a choice from the list of 8 craft beers in an internationally awarded local brewery of the neighborhood, and a local, knowledgeable guide. I can tell you now, it was well worth the price.
As requested by the company, I am not going to mention where we ate, but I will introduce you to the dish of each location and a bit about what makes it a Peruvian speciality. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly or to the tour company. (Note: This is not a sponsored post, I am just a happy paying customer).
Meal 1: Causa
Causa is a unique Peruvian dish served cold as an appetizer. We were offered a variety of three types to try – octopus, tuna, and scallops…all three were incredible. The causa is made spicy by mixing with ají pepper, a basic ingredient, used often in Peruvian food.
The most folkloric version of the history of “Causa Peruana” says that a nun from Lima had to feed a battalion of soldiers and she was asked with very short notice. So she used what there was available and because they were celebrating the Peruvian Independence Day, it was named “causa” (cause).
Meal 2: Anticucho
A popular and inexpensive dish that originated in the Andes during the pre-Columbian era, Anticucho translates to mean cut stew meat. This particular dish is made from beef heart (anticuchos de corazón) and served alongside boiled potatoes and corn.
A good move on Luc’s part, she had us try the dish before she told us what it was so we weren’t turned off. Surprisingly, delicious!
Meal 3: Pan con chicharron
In Peru, chicharron refers to succulent pork, which is then sliced and served on a roll with fried sweet potato, onions, parsley, and a variation of salsa or mayo. It’s a common street food that can be found all over Lima and based off the varieties I saw, will keep you full all day long (they are huge!).
The sandwich offers the perfect blend of savory and spicy and it’s so well-loved in these parts, you’ll often see locals enjoying it for breakfast, as well as, a late night snack after the bars close.
Want to give it a go? Make pan con chicharron at home.
Snack 4: Emoliente con aloe vera, chia seed, & flax seed
This was my favorite stop along the way because it addition to being local and authentic, it offers a wide array of health benefits. Emoliente is an herbal tea popular with most all Peruvians that is sold by street vendors around the country. Peruvians believe it to have healing and protective powers, and when you hear what’s it in, you’ll understand why.
While recipes vary from vendor to vendor, the herbal tea can include any, if not all, of the following:
- Aloe vera: To sooth the digestive tract and counter the affects of eating spicy food daily.
- Horsetail: Has diuretic properties (great for constipated travelers).
- Boldo: Supports digestion (and a hangover).
- Cats claw: May help with cancer treatment, inflammation, & viral infection.
- Alfalfa juice: Rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Cinnamon: Source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Bee Pollen: Increases circulation, eases tension, and reduces environmental allergies.
- Honey: Contains disease-preventing and disease-fighting agents.
The consistency is almost gooey and you need to use your lip along the edge of the cup to cut the mixture so you can swallow (think of the consistency of chia seed pudding, but a bit more watery).
Sounds weird…but it’s wonderful! And your stomach will feel like a million bucks after.
Dessert 5: Picarones
A type of doughnut brought to the colonies by Spanish conquistadors, picarones are made with squash and sweet potato, and drizzled with honey or spiced syrup.
If your travels find you in Lima, Peru, I hope you enjoy the food as much as we did! Happy travels.