Culinary Tours in Peru: A complete guide

Traveling means exploring, trying new things and reinventing ourselves. It means hiking, swimming, taking trains and buses, meeting people, speaking foreign languages, and many other things. Even though we love each of these experiences, it can become tiring if we want to do all of it in one single trip. It is no surprise that in between a lot of activeness and new impressions, we sometimes feel like sitting down, relaxing, and having a nice and well-deserved meal. 

Culinary tours are an important part of traveling for many explorers, and rightly so! Because the exotic tastes that we can discover in even more exotic destinations are an experience for themselves. They allow us to get to know another part of the country and are a means of expressing culture. Therefore, they should be an integral part of any trip. 

Peru as a food lover’s must visit destination

Among the countries of good culinary reputation, Peru definitely deserves its place. Combining cooking techniques from various cultural backgrounds with ingredients from its different regions, it is a food lover’s must-visit destination. So, anyone who is a fan of trying out new tastes and treating themselves to well thought-out meals will find their way to enjoyment here. 

Did you already feel your mouth start watering when reading the above? Then you seem to be a true food fanatic, who should have a look at our range of Culinary Tours in Peru. They will not only treat you to some of the best dishes you can taste in Peru, but also enable you to learn a lot about local food production and its value. 

If you want to become active before treating yourself to anything, you can scroll through our Adventure Tours and embark on your own one! Or maybe you prefer to take it easy and have a chat with some local people? In that case, our Community-Based-Tourism section is for you. Of course, you can also have a look at our whole range of Travel Styles if you are curious.

Is culinary travel your one true interest right now? Rest assured that if you continue reading, you will learn how to do it right in Peru, as we give you some tips for great experiences, as well. 

What characterizes Culinary Tours in Peru?

Eating cultures can reveal a lot more about the visited country than you might initially think. All around the world, people have fostered their eating habits through time. People eating with their bare hands might wonder why people in other parts of the world eat with sticks or even cutlery. And vice-versa, people used to using cutlery can struggle heavily when not being given a fork and knife with their meal.

As you can see from this simple example, culinary tours are not at all solely about food. They are about where the food comes from, by whom it is produced, how it is prepared, and how it is eaten. Traditions are passed on from one generation to the next. At the same time, they can mingle with new influences coming from migrant cultures or creative souls. Peru, for its part, is a great place to witness both the traditional and the creative part of local gastronomy. 

To give you a better idea of what Culinary Tours in Peru look like, we will present the four characteristics of this way of traveling in what follows. To us, discovering the culinary side of Peru means: 1. Getting lost in the local markets; 2. Witnessing the agricultural process of food production first-hand; 3. Learning about the combination of food habits from different cultures and regions; 4. Treating oneself to a unique dish in one of the high-end restaurants of Peru. Read on to find out our thoughts about these four aspects. 

Getting lost in local markets 

Local markets are a must-do when visiting Peru. Most people do not have the habit of going to big supermarkets to get their supplies for the week. In fact, you won’t even find so many of such supermarkets in town. Instead, people go to the market. 

Here, you can discover the huge array of products you can acquire in Peru; potatoes, roots, lentils, vegetables, fruits and more. In short, you can see and try food of all shapes and sizes. Signature street food is abundant as well. Don’t get confused when local vendors call you “papi” or “mami”! This simply is the beautiful way people tend to refer to each other on the local markets. Seems just like a big, happy family. 

In our Lambayeque Gastronomy workshop, you will not only prepare a delicious dish with a local chef. You will also get to visit the local market in his company, in order to shop your ingredients like a real Peruvian and learn all about the products, which you might not be able to identify without a little help. Don’t miss out on this Culinary Tour in PEru when traveling in the North! 

Witnessing the agricultural process of food production 

Nowadays, it can seem like food is simply always available. We can just go to the shop, grab whatever we need, go home and cook. It’s as simple as that. Of course, we are all aware that food is vital to survive. However, having such easy access to food, we can easily forget the true value that lies behind it and the fact that it does not come from nowhere. 

A visit to Peru gives us the chance to go back to the roots of how we retrieve our daily staple foods. The colorful, vibrant markets we just talked about, would not be full of products without the daily hard work of our peasants. Working as a farmer is tough. But especially in Peru, it is the basis of living for many people. 

A great number of Peruvians live in the countryside or in the mountains where they produce food, day-in, day-out. Some of it goes into personal use, whereas the rest is sold to surrounding communities, the markets or directly to some of the big fancy restaurants Peru is famous for (more about that below!).

The life of a farmer is simple. It means waking up early, working on the field and eating what mother earth provides. Getting an insight into such a life can be eye-opening in many ways and provide us with new perspectives. To do so, you can participate in our Agriculture And Gastronomy Tour In The Highlands Of The Sacred Valley. Here, you can learn all about farming in Peru, get to know the locals and try a traditional dish. 

Learning about the combination of food habits from different cultures and regions

Peruvian cuisine has been influenced by a variety of cultural and historical backgrounds, including indigenous, African, Asian, and European influences. One of the best examples of Peruvian fusion cuisine is the blend of traditional Peruvian ingredients and techniques with Asian flavors and influences, particularly from Japan and China. Some popular dishes in this style include tiraditos (a Peruvian version of sashimi), ceviche with miso, and lomo saltado (stir-fry) with soy sauce. 

When it comes to fusions between the Peruvian and Spanish cuisine, the concept of “picanterías” merits to be mentioned. The noun “picantería” derives from the adjective “picante”, meaning spicy. And, unsurprisingly, it refers to a place where one can eat particularly spicy food. Typically, these restaurants serve during lunchtime and are run by women. 

Picantería are above all found in the white city of Arequipa, close to the Colca Canyon. Arequipa is located at 2,335 meters of altitude, which makes it a strategically important place for acclimatization before heading to higher destinations such as Puno (3.800m) and Cusco (3.400m). To make the best of your acclimatization period here, make sure to participate in our Arequipa Tasting and Historical Tour to get a real picantería experience. 

Treating you to fancy restaurants as well

Peru has been designated the best culinary tour destination by the World Travel Awards. And not only once. But ten times! This alone should be reason enough to really get into it and try some of the best restaurants of this culinary forerunner. These restaurants are located in Lima, considered the culinary capital of Latin America, and are listed here-below: 

Maido 

Taking up the subject of fusion cuisine in Peru, Maido, in Miraflores, is definitely the place to recommend. Here, you can live the ultimate Nikkei experience, which refers to the combination of Peruvian and Japanese techniques. The menu features dishes, such as sushi made with local fish and ceviche with a Japanese twist.

Central 

Central is a Peruvian restaurant founded in 2008 by one of the greatest chefs called Virgilio Martínez, and located in the artsy district of Barranco. The restaurant is known for its use of ingredients from all over Peru, from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes mountains, and for its focus on showcasing the country’s diverse culinary traditions.

Astrid y Gastón

Astrid y Gastón is located in Isidro and has existed since 1994. Peru’s most famous chef cooks here; Gastón Acurio. What characterizes this restaurant is its modern take on traditional Peruvian cuisine and its use of high-quality ingredients. This is a great place to experience Peru’s exquisite cuisine. 

Prefer the simple way? 

Due to high popularity, all three restaurants should be reserved in advance if you want to make sure not to miss your chance. What’s more, you should prepare for paying a fair amount of money, considering you will taste some of the best dishes of Latin America. 

If the fancy restaurants are no option for you budget-wise, don’t worry about it! We can offer great alternatives to get to know the tastes of Peru on a tighter budget. Have a look at our Vegan Peruvian Food Tour in Artsy Barranco. Here, you will visit eight local restaurants and get to try 15 different flavors, all while supporting the small local entrepreneurs. 

What makes a culinary trip unique? 

As always, we want to make sure sustainability is at the core of our operations. And what would be a greater way to do that  than including the local population in our culinary experiences? Working with our locals is our specialty and that reflects in our Culinary Tours in Peru, as in all other tours. Visit the markets, cook with the locals and help out farmers on their land. This way, you do not only support the country, but also enhance your experience a great amount. 

Of course, the responsibility of traveling the right way, also lies in your own hands. When choosing where to eat, try and make the right decisions. Choose the meal of the small local entrepreneur over big global chains. Think about where the food comes from and don’t forget to put on a smile, to brighten the day of the vendors! 🙂 

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