If you go to Peru, you need to try the fruits and fresh fruit juices (Jugos naturales). The great variety of vegetable and fruits and the high quality of food is something that you will want to go back for in Peru. They have fruits and veggies I never heard of, some I never saw and lots I never tried before.
My first visit to Peru a few years back wasn’t necessarily gastronomically memorable. After spending 10 days in Altiplano in Bolivia from 4000 to over 5000 metres altitude, with constant altitude sickness, by the time I got to Peru, food was the last thing on my mind. It was more about juices and smoothies, nutritional to get my life back, but had no clue what they were made from. With my limited Spanish, I was asking what’s this or that, but the response was a name that I couldn’t work out. Confusing.
The second time around I had the chance to go with a local. Nothing better than exploring a place with someone who knows the inside out of it. This way I discovered that some of the fruits I had prior were well known, some are solely locally grown, some have an English translation, some don’t. Even though I am not even closer to become a Peruvian green groceries expert, I want to share some of them with you, in case you stop by in Peru.
You might come across a few others depending on the area you’re going to visit, but those ones are the ones I had. I hope I will update my list a.s.a.p. ??
Chicha Morada = Purple corn juice
A cold purple corn drink with sugar and cinnamon. Very famous and popular all over Peru, this is can be found from expensive restaurants to street vendors. Is freshly made and the sweetness varies from one place to another. Some are adding apple, pineapple skin, a spritz of lime, or even a splash of Pisco for a refreshing alcoholic drink.
Eggfruit is one of the most popular fruits in Peru. It is the most common flavour in ice cream and sweets. A subtropical fruit of the Andes valleys has a bright yellow flesh, slightly reminiscent of the sweet potato flavour. The lucuma milkshake (Lucuma con Leche) ended up being my favourite healthy drink.
The prickly pear or cactus fruit is the edible fruit of the Indian fig cactus. You can find them at street vendors or if you adventure to local markets. If you walk the famous Inka trail, you will find this fruit along the road. Eat them raw, same way you would have a kiwi fruit. Besides eating the fruit, the locals are using them for jams and cocktails.
The dragon fruit is a sweet fruit produced by a type of night blooming cactus. It comes in several colours and is compared with the kiwifruit due to its texture and seeds.
The goldenberry is exceptionally low in calories and contains several important nutrients such as thiamin, niacin and vitamin C. With its tart, cherry-like flavour, this tiny orange fruit is actually most closely related to the tomatillo.
The sweet passionfruit comes from the Andes and is less acidic and sweeter than the original passionfruit. Due to the great source fibre, calcium and several essential vitamins it is very good for the digestive system.
Peru is one of the biggest strawberry exporters in the world. On the Sacred Valley of Incas, the small village of Calca is known as the strawberry’s producer. If you go there in the right season, don’t hesitate to try them.
Coming from the melon family, it is similar with to cantaloupe and is usually eaten by itself or paired with other fruits in a fruit salad.
The soursop is used as an ingredient in tropical drinks and smoothies for its mixed flavour of pineapple, strawberry and citrus fruits. It has been also used as an alternative treatment for cancer for decades.
The rest of the fruits are well known, so I won’t go into details. Due to the climate and geographic location, Peru is one of the most fortunate countries in the world when it comes to growing fruits. You need to try any fruit you fancy, including the common ones; the taste is much much better than anything you tried before, please don’t let yourself put off by the language barrier.
Papaya, mango, melon, pomelo, guava keep the same name in English or Spanish. Below is a list with some that you might come across and are tempted to try:
Strawberry = Fresa
Pineapple = Pina
Banana = Platano
Passion Fruit = Maracuya
Carrot = Zanahoria
Cucumber = Pepino
Beets = Betarraga
Limes = Limon
You can try fruit salads = Ensalada de frutas. Fresh juice is simples en aqua, but I strongly recommend their milkshakes = jugos especiales con leche.
I hope this basic guide is helping you to try the delicious variety of fruits, vegetables and juices you come across in Peru. Disfruta!