As we have already mentioned, we came to Lima to eat and one of our favourite ways to sample local food is to get into the streets of a destination and try the street food on offer. Some of the best food we've ever tasted hasn't come from Michelin star restaurants, but instead out of a wok on a bustling street corner and at a cost of less than £2.
We wanted to eat as the locals did and teamed up with Exquisito Peru who combine a cultural walking tour of Lima's historic centre with lots of delicious stops along the way. Food is an integral part of Peruvian culture, and we wanted to learn how, what and where the locals ate; and that's exactly what this Lima food tour is all about.
what's included in the food tour?
With Exquisito Peru, then we opted for the Historic Centre's Street Food Night Tour, although there are a couple of other tours available too. The tour lasts about 4 hours, the groups are small and intimate and our guide was native to Lima and very knowledgeable about the city and its food..
This tour is the perfect blend of a food tour and an informative walking tour; not only will you spend 4 hours ambling from one eatery to the next. You will also visit Lima's main historical sites including Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral of Lima. You will also learn about the history of Lima and it's cuisine.
The majority of all the food and drink are included in the price of the food tour, however there is an option to purchase extra food from local street vendors if you want to, which isn't included in the price.
what food will you try?
You will sample a large selection of different food on the tour, all popular dishes with Lima locals. One thing we noticed was that every stop we went to was filled with locals as opposed to tourists which made you feel like you were really getting an authentic experience. We loved being nestled in beside the locals, sometimes sitting next to old men in their 70s who had been frequenting that particular place for decades.
It was great to sample a little slice of local Lima life.
And now the good part, what did we try?
On our first stop, we tried Yuca Rellena and sampled some Peruvian wine &cheese.
Yucca Rellena, otherwise known as heaven, is a root vegetable which is cooked, mashed and then stuffed with beef mince and other delicious spices then fried. This was one of our favourites on the tour, and something we hadn't tried anywhere else.
Peru obviously isn't known for its wine like Argentina or Chile, and it turns out there is good reason for that, it's not very good! But, it was interesting being able to taste wine native to Peru, so whilst it definitely wasn't the best wine we've ever tasted, we're glad we got to taste it and it accompanied the cheese well!
The next thing we tried were the most delicious churros; and as I say this, there will no doubt will be a fair few Spaniards turning in their graves.
Traditionally in Spain then churros are simple; a slightly savoury dough is fried and served with bitter dark chocolate. Contrary to popular belief, churros are not overly sweet and are only served for breakfast.
However, in Lima, then the churros we tried are completely different (and maybe even better?!) We went to a popular churros joint which was literally queued out the door with locals looking for their sweet fix! Here, the churros are freshly fried infront of you and filled with caramelised condensed milk! They were super sweet and super delicious, and left David and I fighting over them.
pan con chicharron & chilcano
Pan con chicharron translates into English as bread with pork, and Chicano is a lovely refreshing drink of Pisco, ginger ale and lime.
Pan con Chicharron is a popular, quick dish with locals who want to grab something quick to eat and its usually served with sweet onions on top. The eatery which we tried this in has been selling the same thing in Lima for almost 100 years, it was filled with old men, who all knew each other and visiting this place was part of the weekly routine. For a restaurant to have been going for that long, it must be doing something right! We also really liked the Chicano, normally when it comes to Pisco then we can't look past a Pisco sour but a Chicano is a really refreshing drink and matched the pork perfectly.
The next place we visited was a new bar which specialised in artisanal beers, they brewed beer from things like coca leaves and corn which gave their beer some unusual flavours.
Whilst it was cool to try these beers, as the bar we went to was quite new, there was no one else there and it lacked a bit of atmosphere, so this was probably our least favourite stop on the tour. Artisanal beer is becoming more and more popular all over the world, so it is good to see that Peru are also getting involved in this trend and using their own native ingredients to brew the beer, hopefully the bar we visited becomes more popular which will improve this stop on the tour.
After leaving the bar, it was then time to wander along the street food stalls and here you could try whatever you want. The food is really cheap so it's good to try a selection of different things. You can try traditional anticuchos, which are grilled cow hearts - an absolute must try when in Peru!
There was also picarones and cachanga available, but we opted for mazamora which is kind of like rice pudding topped with a sweet, berry jam and some fried donuts!. This area of Lima was fascinating to wander through and just absorb the atmosphere of the city. There were buskers, the sounds of sizzling pans, smells of different food being fried or grilled over open flames. The whole area just felt alive and our guide explained what each type of food was and made some recommendations on what to get.
After feeling thoroughly full it was time for the final stop for a glass of Emoliente. Emoliente is a traditional drink made from different herbs which helps aid digestion - thoroughly needed after this tour!
Overall, we really enjoyed our food tour with Exquisito Peru, it enabled us to have an insight into how locals eat. And whilst, of course, it's always nice to eat at fancy restaurants and Lima is full of them, this tour felt real. It was real people, eating real food and we got to be a part of it for one evening.
Half This World Away was a guest on this food tour, however as always, all opinions remain our own.