Peru Off The Beaten Path Tips by christian99 Top 5 Page for this destination

Peru Off The Beaten Path: 145 reviews and 156 photos

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Slurping Ceviche: One of the classic dishes of Peruvian coastal cooking is ceviche -- raw fish and shellfish marinated in lime or lemon juice and hot chile peppers, and served with raw onion, sweet potato, and toasted corn. It's wonderfully refreshing and spicy. The best place to try one? A seaside cevichería, specializing in umpteen varieties of deliciously fresh ceviche.

Touring Ica's Bodegas: Peru, one of the great winemaking countries of the world? Probably not, but the southern desert coast does have a thriving wine industry. The most famous product is pisco, but the many traditional bodegas (wineries) throughout the Ica countryside also make regular table wines. A few bodegas give tours and tastings. Ica hosts a hopping Wine Festival in March, which is a good time to tour the region if you're into wine and general merriment. Harvest time, late February through April, is the other time to visit, when you can see people crushing grapes the old-fashioned way -- with their feet.

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  • Written Jan 3, 2005
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Relaxing at a Quinta: There are elegant restaurants in Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, and Iquitos, but there's nothing quite like an informal quinta -- an open-air restaurant specializing in Andean home-cooking. It's an Andean tradition perhaps best explored in the crisp air of Cusco, which has a trio of quintas that are especially popular with locals on weekends. Look for informal garden or courtyard settings, large portions of Peruvian cooking, and reasonable prices. Most quintas are open only for lunch, so plan on it as your main meal of the day. Not only will you eat well, but it's also a great way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Savoring a Pisco Sour: Peru's national drink is the pisco sour, a delicious concoction made from the white-grape brandy called pisco. Made frothy when mixed with egg whites, lemon juice, sugar, and bitters, it's cold and complex, the closest thing to a Peruvian margarita. Try one with ceviche or a robust Andean meal -- or just knock 'em back late at night at a gringo-filled bar.

Self-Medicating with Mate de Coca: Coca-leaf tea, a perfectly legal local drink that has been a tradition in the Andes for centuries, is a great way to deal with the high altitude of the mountains, which can make your head spin and your body reel. As soon as you hit Cusco or Puno, head straight for the mate de coca -- most hotels have it at ready for their guests. And if that doesn't work, strap on the oxygen tank (many hotels supply that for their guests, too).

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 3, 2005
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Barbecuing Peruvian-Style: The Peruvian version of a barbecue get-together is called a pachamanca; it's basically cooking meat and veggies over coals or hot stones in a hole in the ground. On weekends in the countryside, mostly in the mountains, you'll see families gathered around smoky subterranean grills, cooking up pork or beef and potatoes and vegetables. (You can also get pachamanca-style dishes in some traditional restaurants.)

Chugging Chicha: An ancient Andean tradition is the brewing of chicha, beer made from fermented maize. You can find it at a few traditional restaurants, but for an authentic Andean experience, the best place to get it is at a simple bar or home that flies the chicha flag -- a long pole with a red flag or, often, balloon -- which is the local way of advertising that there's home-brewed chicha available inside. Served warm, in monstrous tumblers for a few pennies, it's not to many foreigners' liking, but it's one of the best ways to go native. Chicha morada, a refreshment made from blue corn, is something altogether different: It's sweet and nonalcoholic, and it actually tastes good (especially with ceviche).

Going Native with Jungle Cuisine: Peru's vast Amazon is full of exotic critters and plants, so it's logical that it would produce its own unique cuisine. Some of what restaurateurs deal in is endangered animals, though, so I don't advise satisfying your curiosity to try sea-turtle soup or caiman, even if the locals do it. Local jungle dishes that you don't have to feel bad about trying include patarashca, a steamed river fish wrapped in banana leaves; juanes, a kind of rice tamale; timbuche, a thick soup made with local fish; paiche, an Amazon-size local fish; and chonta, a hearts of palm salad.

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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