Former French President Charles de Gaulle once said about France, ‘how can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?’ We cannot imagine what his reaction would have been had he governed Peru, a country with over 2,500 soup recipes, more than 3,000 different types of potatoes and more than 2,000 species of fish! With culture and food so closely related, you cannot fully explore or experience a country without trying the typical and local dishes from the region. Peru which is renowned worldwide for its exquisite cuisine and large variety of ingredients therefore has a lot to be discovered and more importantly enjoyed.
Even though Lima often steals the gastronomy limelight, if you ask a Peruvian where the capital of food is, they will more often than not, tell you that it is Arequipa. With a wealth of exciting varieties of products and flavors, Arequipa has produced regional dishes that many cities around the world cannot compete with. Whether you are searching for traditional dishes at local and authentic ‘picanterías’ serving generation-old dishes or a taste of celebrated and modern ‘Novoandina’ dishes; Arequipa has it all! However, one dish that you have to try is the signature dish and source of Arequipeño pride, Rocoto Relleno. The spicy Rocoto red pepper is de-seeded, de-stemmed and boiled to remove some of the spiciness before it is stuffed with finely cut steak, cheese, black olives, ground peanuts, Peruvian spices and sometime raisins. It is then baked beautifully until the cheese begins to ooze tantalizingly out from the top and it is only then that you will be able to see, taste and smell why the Rocoto Relleno is the pride and joy of Arequipa.
San Camilo Market – The home of Arequipan Food
When visiting the colonial city of Arequipa, with the backdrop of the impressive Misti volcano and Southern Peruvian Andes as well as the nearby Colca Canyon, you cannot miss the opportunity to explore the incredible array of food in this beautiful city. Nowhere is better than San Camilo Market to encounter the diversity and exclusive natural produce of Arequipa. San Camilo Market is one of the biggest and oldest markets in Arequipa and is conveniently located just a few blocks from the main Plaza de Armas square. Originally constructed by Gustave Eiffel, the market spans an entire city block and is one of the highlights of visiting Arequipa. Neatly divided into about 32 different food sections San Camilo is full of delicious fruit juices, weird and wonderful vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, traditional medicine and of course more varieties of potatoes that you could even imagine. San Camilo market is the true home of Arequipan food meaning you won’t be able to stop your mouth-watering once you begin to explore the many different ingredients that come together to produce the many celebrated Arequipan dishes.
Arequipan Gastronomy Tour
Although walking around and visiting this market is in itself is a thrilling experience, what could be better than exploring the market and then learning to cook a local and traditional Arequipan dish. When traveling to Arequipa with Encounter Latin America, we know for ourselves just how spectacular the food is in this city which is why we provide you with the opportunity to take part in a culinary experience. Visiting San Camilo Market, you will be able to explore with your guide the various stalls picking up the various ingredients needed to prepare a traditional entrée and main course. Don’t hold back from asking questions about the different produce, as there will be a large amount that you will never have seen before. With your ingredients in hand, you will go to a nearby family house where your guide will translate the cooking process to make sure that you your dish comes out just as good as the chef’s. Sitting down to enjoy these traditional meals along with the hands-on cookery class will offer you the opportunity to taste the typical dishes of Arequipa in a unique way. We believe that only once you have tried and tasted the ins and outs of Arequipan cuisine, can you say that you have truly experienced and encountered Ariqupeño and indeed Peruvian culture!