FOOD in Arequipa: 8 delicious Dishes that Are Worth a Trip to Arequipa, Peru
In January 2015 the UNESCO recognized Arequipa city as one of the 66 World’s creative cities in gastronomy.
The certificate was delivered by the Unesco representative in Peru, Ernesto Fernández, who highlighted that Arequipa city is one of the 66 cities in the world that were declared creative cities in gastronomy.
According to the Arequipa Picantera Society (Picanteria is the name of traditional restaurants in Arequipa), the number of dishes that this region offers would reach about 194 (40 entrees, 22 types of soups, 70 stews and 62 desserts and drinks). For this reason, this city has earned a deserved culinary fame, both among locals and travelers.
Without a doubt, Arequipa’s cuisine has in the “Picanterías” the sanctuaries of knowledge and flavor, which treasure centuries of tradition, creativity and innovation because they are the authentic guarantors of the future of this emblematic Peruvian regional cuisine.
If you are planning to visit Arequipa and you don’t want to miss dishes that will delight your palate, we show you this list with some of our typical dishes. – Enjoy them!
1.- El Rocoto Relleno (The stuffed Rocoto).
One of the most emblematic dishes of Arequipa is “Rocoto relleno”
This is a type of stuffed pepper. But unlike other recipes that are based on sweet peppers, this dish uses ROCOTO, a red pepper that is ten times hotter than the famous jalapeño.
These rocotos are so spicy that to reduce the itchiness they are cooked in water and vinegar, however this does not take away totally the spicy flavor that also contains a first-class taste and aroma.
The filling is based on a mixture of meat, butter, cream and nuts. It is also often topped with a slice of melted cheese. The most typical thing is that it is accompanied by a piece of potato cake (Pastel de papa).
2.- El “Americano” (The American)
The “American” is a very traditional dish in Arequipa and although currently it is presented in many forms and combinations in the traditional Picanterías, the original recipe presents a conjunction of 4 hot spices: a portion of rice, meat stew, pumpkin chili pepper, brambles of legs and a torreja, served in a single plate one after another.
The delicious Arequipeño meat stew is one of the most common dishes and can be prepared from various types of meat, but the one served in the “americano dish” is beef, onion, carrot, potatoes and red chili, accompanied with white rice.
The stew can also be replaced by the locro (a spicy made with mash potatoes). Nowadays the American is also served with a stuffed hot pepper or a noodle cake.
3.- Chupe de Camarones (Shrimp great soup).
This soup prepared with shrimp is a very powerful dish and with a great taste.
It is based on Shrimp accompanied by onion, tomato, beans, garlic. Yellow potatoes, corn, boiled eggs, rice, cheese, and milk are added to the soup.
This dish is typical throughout the coastal area of Peru; However, the Arequipeño Chupe de camarones is simply the king of all of them.
4.- Soltero de Queso (Chees fresh salad)
This entrée is used also as a garnish.
This salad is based in fresh cheese, hot peppers, onion, olives, beans and tomato. The most common is to find this typical dish seasoned with vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper.
This “salad” is a popular main dish for dinners in Arequipa and sometimes it is accompanied by boiled potato slices.
5.- Adobo Arequipeño
Adobo arequipeño, also known as adobo de chancho, is a traditional dish from Arequipa.
Normally it is tha Sunday brunch dish at Arequipa’s local picanterías. Amazing taste and very popular among the locals and visitors.
How maybe you already know, the term “adobo” is derived from the Spanish word adobar, meaning marinade and you will find many adobos around the world. But Arequipa’s adobo is quite different from the other adobos in the world.
The arequipeño dish is a soupy pork stew, slow-simmered with chicha de jora, spicy rocoto pepper, aji panca, garlic, onions, oregano, cumin, and other herbs and spices. It is made in a clay pot to take advantage of all its flavor and It is cooked overnight.
Currently in the Cayma district it is possible to enjoy this dish every day in its famous picanterías (typical food establishments) Don’t forget to ask also for your “pan de tres puntas” (Bread with 3 cornes).
6.- Ocopa Arequipeña – Spicy traditional sauce
Ocopa Arequipena is a simple dish consisting of cooked and sliced potatoes covered in a Ocopa sauce.
Yes! IT IS THE SAUCE that gives it that special touch to this dish, since it is made from yellow hot pepper, onions, garlic, huacatay (a typical local herb), roasted peanuts, walnuts, cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bu, what make the big different to the taste?
– It is the Huacatay (called black mint) is an endemic herb from Peru, it belongs to the mint family, I could say that it has a touch of bitterness like mint, but it has simply a unique flavor and aroma.
🙂 Boiled eggs, whole olives and lettuce leaves can be added to the unique “Ocopa arequipeña”.
7.- El Escribano – “The writer or Notary”
“El Escribano” is considered the ancestor of many dishes in Arequipa and its name comes from the tradition of the type of diners.
It is said that the origin of this dish dates back to colonial times. The judges, lawyers and especially the “Escribano (or writer)”, who exercised the functions of our current Notaries, went to the picanterías to eat something very quickly before the next session or at the end of their daily workday.
Sometimes they arrive to early or to late and did not always find food ready, so the spicy dishes would put on the table with a little of what was in all typical Arequipa cuisine; potatoes, tomatoes and of course the spicy rocoto, making sure that is very spicy so the diners become thirsty and consumed a lot of chicha (Traditional drink), while the main meal arrived.
They say that some of the diners came up with the idea of mixing everything they had on hand and made their version of salad and so, this improvised dish, became part of the menu in the picanterías. As most of the diners were Notaries, they baptized it with that name, although it was also served to other members of the legal service and later to the general public.
8.- La Chicha de Guiñapo (Traditional drink)
As you’re traveling in Peru and visit traditional restaurants you may encounter a interesting drink called “Chicha de Jora”. This beverage is dating back thousands of years. Chicha is a timeless and iconic drink that every visitor to Peru should taste at least once.
La chicha de Jora is made similarly to other types of beer: by germinating corn, extracting malt sugars, boiling the wort, and then fermenting.
BUT…. In Arequipa you will find another version of the Chicha and this is the “Chica de Guiñapo”.
Chicha de guiñapo is the signature variety of Arequipa and uses a special type of maize (Purple) which only grows in that region. It is fermented for a couple of days, which gives it a low alcohol content of around 2-3%.
The taste is light and sweet, and it so perfect to any of of the spicy food of the unique Arequipa gastronomy.
And do you get curious? We got to open your appetite?
Arequipa is a destination that will fill you with surprises and beautiful experiences, not only not only for its incredible geographical areas, parks and culture heritage, but will also be a feast for the good palate.
visit Arequipa in peru
We are waiting for you!