And what about the desserts? Food of the gods! During your fortunate encounter with the White City of Arequipa, don’t forget to try the traditional corn chicha accompanied by a delicious anise drink, Nájar, which eases digestion. What more could you ask for?
The picanterías of the White City are the modern expression of an ancestral custom in the region that merges rural life with food and dining. These traditional restaurants still cook over a wood fire, a natural source of heat that intensifies the aromas of the food’s seasonings.
An emblematic dish from Arequipa is the rocoto pepper stuffed with pieces of meat, cheese, eggs and olives and blanketed with a generous slab of melted cheese. Other entrees unique to Arequipa are solterito de queso, combining fava beans, corn, olives, hot pepper and chunks of cheese with a lemon and herb dressing, and ocopa, consisting of four or five slices of cooked potato slathered with a sauce made of milk, cheese, peanuts, hot pepper, onion, crackers and shrimp tails.
Like all mountain towns, Arequipa offers succulent soups. The most acclaimed are the hearty and healthy white soup with lamb loin, potato, corn, garbanzo beans, chuño (dehydrated potato), and spices; puchero soup, a stew with of beef, pork, and chicken with vegetables and herbs; and shrimp chowder, containing shrimp with milk and cheese.
On Sunday mornings in Arequipa, you will find adobo, a main dish made from pork loin, ají pepper, onion and chicha de jora corn beer. The locals also enjoy fried pork crackling and stews, which form the base of their spicy dishes such as spicy pork, beef, lamb and duck; as well as locro, a stew made from pumpkin with beef or lamb, and malaya frita, which consists of stewed and browned beef brisket served with fried cassava and onion sauce.
Arequipa offers a variety of desserts. Buñuelos pastries are made from flour, eggs and milk and served in molasses. Queso helado (frozen cheese) is prepared with coconut, cinnamon, milk and spices, and once it has set, served with honey or by itself. Arequipa’s chocolates and toffees are also famous. The traditional beverage is corn cicha or chicha de jora or Nájar anis, a digestif traditionally consumed after eating pork.
Access via air: Daily flights from Lima to Arequipa.
Access via land: To Arequipa along the Pan-American Highway South.