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Peruvian streetfood

In Lima, there is a true street food culture where food stands come out in the evenings to sell the most delicious street food. Nowadays, you find them all over Lima during the nights, but back in the days, the street stands were only found in unsafe areas with a lot of crime. The majority of Peruvian street food is Afro-Peruvian fusion. Being slaves, people were poor, and they did not have many ingredients, so they had to be very creative. For example, they marinated ‘garbage’ meat with herbs available. Street food is popular all over the country, but the street stand culture is most popular in Lima. Signature street food: anticuchos, arroz con leche, cassava croquets, picarones, sanguches, tamales and tequeños.

Top 7 of Peruvian street food

Street food is very popular and diverse in Peru. Different time slots during the day also mean different food stands. The following dishes are the most popular:

  1. Anticuchos –grilled beef-heart skewers marinated in vinegar chilli and herbs and then grilled on coal grills. This dish goes back to the pre-Colombian era. During the colonial period in the 16th century, it evolved. The Spanish Conquistadores would slaughter cows and gave the offal, which they considered inferior and garbage, to their slaves. The slaves learned how to cook them, using different seasonings from the Spanish and the Andes region, transforming them into delicious morsels of meat. After the slaves were freed in 1874, they moved to the cities to start a new life, and the women started selling anticuchos in evenings on the streets. Today, everyone loves anticuchos. You can find them in anticucherias . Traditionally, anticuchos are made of beef-heart, you also can eat them with chicken, vegetarian or with squid. They are served with a boiled potato and bread.
  2. Arroz con leche with Mazamorra Morada – Rice pudding with porridge made from the deep purple corn. Mazamorra Morada was my favourite dessert when I was a kid!
  3. Papa rellena – potato croquet stuffed with meat, raisins, olives and a boiled egg. Also made of yuca or cassava. 
  4. Picarones – Peruvian doughnut made of sweet potato and squash that is deep-fried and served with chancaca (cane syrup). Traditionally, people eat picarones after eating anticuchos.
  5. Sanguches – Sandwiches are very popular in Lima. The signature sandwiches are with sausages, pork rind, turkey, chicken, beef or vegetarian with avocado. They are served on round sandwiches with French fries, yuca, salsa criolla and a wide variety of (spicy) sauces. Salsa criolla is a cold relish, served with a lot of meat dishes, consisting of sliced onions, vinegar, tomato, red bell pepper, olive oil and cilantro.
  6. Tamales – Steamed corn dumplings with meat, olives, chilli, topped with onions wrapped in a banana leaf.    
  7. Tequeños – Peruvian fresh cheese sticks. They originate from Venezuela but are very popular nowadays in Lima. In Peru, they use wonton dough, and are eaten with avocado.

Anticucherias

Anticuchos can be found on street food stalls, the anticucherias. In the evening the stalls come out, and the anticuchos are grilled on coal grills.

Cevicherias

Cevicherias are the equivalent of pizzeria’s but then with only ceviches on the menu. In Peru, you mainly find them in the coastal area. Traditionally, most cevicherias are open for lunch, so the fish is being served right from the boat onto the plate.

Picanterias

A traditional lunch restaurant where you can eat soup and a small main dish chosen from a week menu. You can predominantly find them in and around Arequipa and Cuzco. These used to be places in the countryside where field workers had their lunch, sitting on large tables with benches. Arequipa is the place where you still can find some traditional rustic picanterias.

Examples of dishes served are: shrimp soup, stuffed chilli, potato cake, guinea pig.

Sangucheria

These sandwich shops are very popular in Lima, they sell all kinds of sandwiches, sodas and fresh juices. People come and eat the sandwiches in the evenings or at night after going out. The most well-known sangucheria in Peru is La Lucha in Lima.

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