Chicha corn beer was the traditional beverage of the ancient inhabitants of the Andes, and the tradition still lives on today. If you wish to sip the exotic liquors distilled in the highlands, you can chose between wines and artisanal ciders, the most common drinks apart from chicha. Don’t forget to try the breads and the wawas, santiagos, and bolitos de agua pastries, which, without question will give your already ecstatic palate a new thrill.
Cajamarca, Amazonas, Áncash, Junín, Pasco, Huancavelica, Apurímac, Ayacucho, Cusco and Puno
The Peruvian highlands have an abundance of highly nutritious ingredients that the ancient inhabitants of Peru learned to combine to create pleasing flavours without sacrificing their natural properties. The wood-fired ovens and ceramic pots are part of the Inca wisdom that preserves the nutrients of food through a slow and aromatic cooking process.
Meats, tubers, grains and herbs are the foundations of this healthy culinary tradition. The simple way of cooking, with little seasoning, guarantees easy digestion. Corn with cheese, corn salad, corn kernels with cracklings, cancha (roasted corn kernels), humitas (ground, cooked corn cakes), and papa a la huancaina (potatoes in a spicy cream sauce) are on the menu of any Andean restaurant. This selection of dishes includes meats, corn, maize, potatoes, cassava, cheese, peppers, peanuts and herbs.
The food of the Peruvian mountains is hearty. Pachamanca is a mixture of beef, lamb, pork and cuy (guinea pig), marinated in chicha de jora and herbs and then cooked, along with fava beans, potatoes and humitas, on hot stones in a hole in the ground covered over with earth and corn husks.
Patasca, a soup made from corn kernels; cuy chactado, guinea-pig fried with a stone on it; cecina, dried and dehydrated meat served with onion sauce; and puka picante, a pork and potato stew seasoned with red pepper and beets are all examples of the Andean culinary tradition.
Traditional Andean soups include chochoca, made from corn flour; sopa verde, a kind of chowder made of cheese and the paico herb; kapchi, a fava bean stew; lawa, with fresh corn, fava beans, dried yellow ají peppers and the huacatay herb; chuño or morraya, made from dehydrated potatoes; and chairo, with beef and lamb, wheat, potatoes, fava beans, pumpkin and chuño.
The desserts feature corn, milk and highland fruits. Worth a taste are chapana, the fresh cheese with honey, the coconut cocadas, the manjarblanco (caramel) and the jaleas (blackberry and elderberry preserves). When it comes to liquors, artisanal wines and ciders are the most common, along with corn chicha. Homage is also paid to bread: wawas, santiagos, bollos de agua and tres puntas are different types made from wheat, barley, corn, oca, anise, potato and sweet potato.
Access by air: Daily flights from Lima to the main cities of the northern and southern highlands.
By land: Depending on the destination along the Pan-American Highway North and South, and roads into the mountains.