By Brittany Tiplady
If you do a Google search for the best cuisine in Latin America, you’ll notice that Peru comes up on the top of almost every list. And that’s for good reason: Peruvian Gastronomy is second to none.
Peru has swept the World Travel Awards as the leading culinary destination since 2012, and the accolades keep on coming. If you’re unfamiliar, let’s learn a little bit about what makes Peruvian food so fantastic.
Location, Location, Location.
Peru shares borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. According to 1111 Peruvian Bistro based in Miami, “the country is divided into 3 topographical areas: coastal region, the Amazon rainforest to the east, and the Andean highlands. The different climates and local ingredients within them create unique flavors in the dishes that are created around them.”
You’ll see this topography directly reflected in the classic Peruvian dishes: the pacific ocean provides a wealth of seafood for renowned dishes like ceviche, the mountainous regions are ideal for livestock and grains –in the rainforest, fruits and vegetables thrive.
Notable Peruvian Dishes
And, you can’t forget about the aji.
“The aji amarillo—aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow in Spanish—is considered part of the Peruvian ‘holy trinity” when it comes to their cuisine, along with garlic and red onion,” notes The Spruce Eats cooking blog. “Although this pepper is literally named ‘yellow chili pepper,’ its color changes to a bright orange as it matures.”
Aji is the magic umami ingredient in Peruvian gastronomy. Dishes like papa a la huancaína, as well as aji de gallina are concocted with aji at the forefront, and can be tempered to be as spicy, or as mild, as you’d like.
Other prominent Peruvian dishes and delicacies include: Pollo a la Brasa (similar to a rotisserie chicken), Lomo Saltado (sirloin stir fry, typically served with fries and rice), cuy (fried or roasted guinea pig), and papa rellena (Latin American croquettes).
Where to Enjoy in Vancouver
Growing up with a Peruvian family I am definitely biased, but I stand firm in my beliefs that Peruvian cuisine is as delicious, robust, and complex as the critics acclaim. It can be enjoyed at the Michelin Star level, or just as well from a tiny, humble restaurant.
In the Metro Vancouver area, however, the options are limited. Lucky for you, I’ve done my research on where to enjoy a taste of Peru right here.
Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio
Two locations: False Creek, Vancouver & Ambleside, West Vancouver
Ancora is an occasion spot, but if your wallet is up for it, I can’t recommend enough. Expect Peruvian/Japanese fusion, fresh seafood, and a beautiful drink list. On your next date night, don’t skimp on the Causas; enjoy with a Pisco Sour.
Silvestre Deli & Bistro
Located in the heart of Gastown, Silvestre is one of the only spots in the city that serves up Peruvian comfort dishes in a casual setting. Find classics like Aji de gallina and Bisteck a lo pobre on the menu, best enjoyed with a cold glass of Chicha Morada (a beloved juice, made of purple corn, fruits and spices).
El Inka Deli
This unassuming little spot may not look like much from the outside but the Google Reviews tell a different story. Open for dine-in, take out, or delivery from Skip the Dishes, I highly recommend ordering my personal favourite, the Anticucho: pieces of barbecued beef heart served with boiled potatoes, and corn. Wash it down with a can of Inka Kola, or a Maracuya (Passion Fruit) with Milk smoothie.
Main image provided by Silvestre Deli & Bistro