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Eating in this Latin American country is much tastier than you could have ever imagined.

The Chinese-Peruvian experience

By Lizzie LeBow

NONE OF US knew what we were in for when we arrived in the bustling streets of downtown Lima. Luis Calderón, our guide, led us through the chaos. We walked along the crowded streets of Chinatown (Calle Capón) until we arrived at the buffet oasis. Ogling the giant table of food, we prepared to eat as much as we could in the allotted two hours.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Peruvian Chinese food. Back in the U.S., Chinese food is mostly inauthentic fried meats in soy sauces and rice.

Peruvian Chinese food has adapted to use local ingredients. Quail eggs sat alongside appetizers. Fish and tropical fruits like maracuyá (passion fruit) were used because they are readily available.

I had a good time tasting the Chinese-Peruvian food. At the end of the day, the cuisine was a tasty treat.

Pizza Margherita at Dolce Cappriccio in Miraflores. | Lizzie LeBow

Pizza in Lima

By Lizzie LeBow 

WHEN YOU THINK of Peruvian food, you might not include pizza. The well-known dish is more often associated with Italy or Chicago.

After trying many delicious Peruvian dishes in Lima, we decided to go in a different direction: a small Italian restaurant named Dolce Capriccio

We were seated next to the pastry case, and the cheesecakes taunted us. I was tempted to ask for a piece of cake for dinner, but I managed to resist and ordered a Margherita pizza instead.  

The cheese oozed off the edges, and the tomatoes were delightfully salty. Still, all I could think about was the chocolate cake in the dessert case. I could not help but give in to its charms.  

A decadent two-layer cake of devil’s food and mousse, completely worth the 12 soles ($3.70), sat on a plate in front of me. Though I could have gone for a more authentic dining experience, my Margherita pizza and cake proved that ceviche and lomo saltado are not the only dishes in Lima.

From flan to ice cream to chocolate cake, Peruvians love their desserts. | Jordan Clay

Irresistible Desserts

By Jordan Clay

MY MOM HAS a sweet tooth. My dad has a sweet tooth. Put that together, you create a child with a super-mega sweet tooth.

Normally, I can keep my cravings under control. However, I learned very quickly that Peruvians have a special appreciation for dessert. From tres leches cakes to flan to rolled ice cream, the desserts in Peru are incomparable.

I found myself shamelessly bringing chocolate cake to class at 10 in the morning. I tried to be strong, but when the aroma of freshly baked cookies filled the air, I couldn’t walk past a bakery.  

Bakeries in Chicago— with the exception of mass-produced and low-quality Dunkin Donuts— are rare. When you do find one, your options are limited to cupcakes and cheesecake.

In Peru, you’ll easily find a small bakery with many desserts, including cakes, ice cream, cookies, brownies, flan, fruit and chocolate. All are handmade.

There’s a lot I’m going to miss about this country: the landscape, the people, the restaurants, the dogs. But I’d be lying if I said the desserts didn’t make it on the list.

I found my love in Peru and his name is Sr. Saltado | Lizzie Lebow

Meeting Sr. Saltado

By Jordan Clay

AS A LAZY PERSON, I rely on services like GrubHub to do the hard work. While in Lima, however, I pushed my comfort levels in dining. I enjoyed eating in diners and luxurious restaurants.

However, eating food in front of my computer is incredibly relaxing no matter where I am.

So I set out to find food I could eat comfortably in my bed. To my dismay, I found very few options.

Perhaps because meals are a social event in Peru, there is not much demand for delivery or take-out. Why eat alone when you can enjoy food with your loved ones? And then I met Sr. Saltado.

Sr. Saltado is a Chinese-Peruvian eatery that replicates the fast-casual dining style in the U.S. At Sr. Saltado you pick a protein, veggies and sauce, and the chef cooks it in a wok. The food was tasty and filling and set me back only 14 soles ($4.35).

Sr. Saltado gave me the best of both worlds: Peruvian food in the comfort of my hotel room.

A variety of desserts closed a great buffet of Peruvian dishes in Cusco. | Elio Leturia

Dining in Paradise

By Lizzie LeBow

WHILE ON OUR WAY through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, we stopped to eat at Tunupa Restaurant on the Urubamba River.

We enjoyed Peruvian treats like ceviche, quinoa stew and pollo saltado. For dessert, we had mousses, tropical fruits and torta de dulce de leche (caramel cake.)

I especially enjoyed the fresh avocados and tomatoes. Coming from the harsh winter of the Midwest, fresh vegetables were a pleasure.

The food was nothing compared to the view. Tunupa’s backyard is the lush valley of the Urubamba River. A garden of vibrant colors flourished against the backdrop of the Andes.

Outside the restaurant, two alpacas were enjoying their lunch. We named them Penélope and Café. Penelopé focused on eating grass while her admirers stroked her. Café was a little standoffish and shy.

Tunupa restaurant provided the experience of dining in a mountainous paradise among Peru’s natural flora and fauna. We were able to have a delicious meal while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the Andes.

Peruvian seafood is not only ceviche. This shrimp ravioli at Delfino Mar was spectacular. | Lizzie Lebow

Sea and fresh

By Lizzie LeBow

BEFORE COMING TO Peru, I had not really associated its capital, Lima, with seafood. While dining in the city, however, my opinion changed.

Lima sits on the Pacific coast of Peru, thus its restaurants feature seafood. Peru’s national dish is ceviche, a seafood salad of raw fish in lime juice, mixed with purple onions and chopped ají (a Peruvian chile pepper.)

I tasted Lima’s seafood a few times: sushi, fried fish and Chaufa rice, and seafood paella.

I experienced one of the most notable dishes at a posh restaurant named Delfino Mar. It was shrimp ravioli in a creamy artichoke sauce. The saltiness and tartness of the artichokes perfectly complimented the shrimp. The creamy and cheesy sauce combined all the elements into one cohesive dish.

Growing up in the Midwest, I knew little about seafood. However, the restaurants of Lima changed my attitude. The seafood, so fresh and flavorful, left me wanting more.


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