Peruvian cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients including influences from the indigenous population, including the Inca, and cuisines brought in with colonizers and immigrants from Europe (Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine, German cuisine), Asia (Japanese cuisine and Chinese cuisine) and West Africa. Without the familiar ingredients from their home countries, immigrants modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru.
The four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (quinoa, kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lupins). Staples brought by the Spanish include rice, wheat and meats (beef, pork and chicken).
Many traditional foods—such as quinoa, kiwicha, chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent decades, reflecting a revival of interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary techniques. Chef Gaston Acurio has become well known for raising awareness of local ingredients.
The US food critic Eric Asimov has described it as one of the world’s most important cuisines and as an exemplar of fusion cuisine, due to its long multicultural history.
Peruvian National Dishes
Ceviche, also cebiche, seviche, or sebiche, is a seafood dish originating in Peru typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt, and cilantro. Because the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared and consumed fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain. The dish is popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America. Though the origin of ceviche is hotly debated, in Peru it is considered a national dish.
Though archeological records suggest that something resembling ceviche may have been consumed in Peru nearly two thousand years ago, some historians believe the predecessor to the dish was brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada, who accompanied the Spanish conquistadors and colonizers, and this dish eventually evolved into what is now considered ceviche. Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio further explains that the dominant position Lima held through four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region, and in time they became a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles.
Ceviche is now a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas, reaching the United States in the 1980s. The greatest variety of ceviches are found in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Peru; but other distinctly unique styles can also be found in coastal Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, the United States, Mexico, Panama, and several other nations.