What I Ate in Peru: Guinea Pig Anyone?

For “What I Ate Wednesday,” I would like to share what I ate in Peru.

peruvian cuisine

I tried to sample a lot of traditional Peruvian cuisine, but I was less adventurous than usual when I first arrived. I wanted to be extra careful to avoid getting ill before hiking the Inca Trail, so I passed by the very little restaurants and street food. I regret not picking up a snack of gigantically-kerneled corn with a slice of cheese alongside the road during a bus break, though; I thought I would get the chance to try it later, and I hunted for it, but I didn’t find it again.


First of all, I did try guinea pig, which I had been wary of months ago since I used to have a pet guinea pig named Chewie. (Link: Peru, My Pet, and a Moral Dilemma)

Cuy (Guinea Pig)
peruvian cuisine

Guinea pig is an important food in Peru and a part of the local culture. There was surprisingly little meat (my pet had been pretty chunky), and it was baked to smithereens, but it was tasty, with chewy (sorry Chewie!) bits of dry meat, kind of like a barbecued spare rib. Three of us tried it and had a few nibbles each.

peruvian cuisine

Alpaca was on a lot of menus, served in many different ways. In this dish it was served in a steak with mashed potatoes. It was tough but flavorful.

Quinoa soup
Peruvian cuisine

Soups were very commonly served as a first course to a meal. This quinoa soup was perfect on a night when I didn’t have much appetite.  (My appetite disappeared for most of my trip, I guess because of the high altitude.)

Andean Stew
Peruvian cuisine

This Andean stew had lamb, chicken, and pallares (Lima butter beans). It was delicious, with a very rich broth and tender ingredients. It was served with fresh bread, fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Peruvian cuisine

Peruvian cuisine

Peruvian cuisine

This causa, “stuffed mashed potatoes,” was really tasty. It was stuffed with chicken and avocado and served cold.

Peruvian cuisine
This lamb stew was okay, but it was more like a cutlet of lamb with some stew vegetables scattered around.

Peruvian cuisine
Breakfast tended to be bread with jam, fruit, yogurt, and sometimes puffed grains.

Peruvian cuisine

On the Inca Trail

The food served while hiking the Inca Trail was a pleasant surprise. The porters woke us up in our tent with a hot cup of coffee. We had three breakfasts on the trail: crepes, porridge, and eggs. We had a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner, some Peruvian, some with French sauces. They even surprised us with a cake on the trail. I lost my appetite for most of the hike, so I would eat a little and hand the rest over to my older teenage son, who had a never-ending appetite. (Three of us lost weight on this vacation, while he gained a few pounds.)

hiking the inca trail

Lunch on the Inca Trail: asparagus soup, trout with rice and vegetables, and black corn pudding

hiking the Inca Trail

Rural Lake Titicaca Islands

We ate on two beautiful islands on Lake Titicaca that were both very rural, Amantani and Taquile.

On Amantani, where we stayed overnight, our hostess made our simple and satisfying vegetarian meals on a very basic stone oven.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Boiled potatoes with fried cheese
Lake Titicaca

On Taquile, we had fresh trout from Lake Titicaca with crisps (French fries), rice, and vegetables.
Lake Titicaca


Make your own hot cocoa
Peruvian cuisine

So good: I made my own hot cocoa by mixing chocolate, hot milk, honey, and chili powder (at Choco Museo).

Cocoa tea
Peruvian cuisine
I hadn’t even known about cocoa tea.

Cusquena beer in Peru
Local beer: Cusqueña. It was very light and bland.

Inca Kola
Inca kola in Peru
I was not a fan of Inca Kola at all. It was super sweet with an unappealing artificial color.

Pisco sour
Peruvian cuisine
We had to try a Pisco sour.

Lost in translation
But we skipped trying the “integral mold bread.”

All in all, it was a great trip with great food.

What I Ate In… Series:

See also: Hiking the Inca Trail

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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17 Responses to What I Ate in Peru: Guinea Pig Anyone?

  1. It is pretty cool visiting other countries and trying their specialties. Someday I’d like to get to Peru! 🙂

  2. Casey says:

    looks like a great trip. My cousin is living in Lima currently and I am dying to visit.

  3. I’d love to visit some of these places, but I swear I’d have to pack my own food. (Didn’t Ringo do that when the Beatles went to the ashram in India?) I could deal with everything except the meats. Did I miss something? What happened to Chewie?

    • Marcy says:

      I never heard that about Ringo before. Chewie died a few months ago (of natural causes). I think he just reached the end of his lifespan. He was a good little pet. I still miss his squeaking when I chop vegetables.

  4. So cool! Glad you got to try some interesting stuff! That’s always exciting when you go to new places.

  5. Abby says:

    Most of this stuff looks pretty good! The baked guinea pig with its head still on might not make it to my mouth, however. The island food seems good and healthy too. Interesting, thanks for sharing.

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  10. Love this! When I went to Peru the most interesting thing I ate was grilled chicken heart on a stick from a street vendor in Cusco. It was actually really delicious – done in a savory sauce with little grilled potatoes on the stick as well. I was also not a huge fan of Inca Cola – it reminded me of cream soda on speed. Way too sweet. But the pisco sours! Yum.
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