As one of Peru’s most famous contributions to the culinary world, ceviche has been declared part of its “national heritage.” While ceviche has sparked heated debates on everything from its origins to what ingredients are/aren’t acceptable, the dish has certainly conquered the world’s taste buds. But the rest of Peruvian cuisine is also holding it down. For the last decade or so, the country has been raising its gastronomic profile, so it’s not surprising that the World Travel Awards named the country South America’s Leading Culinary Destination for 2016. It’s an award Peru has won five years in a row. Last year, Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Magali Silva credited the country’s investment in its cuisine as the reason for food’s increased renown. As a matter of fact, restaurants Central, Maido, and Astrid y Gastón all made the cut on The Diners Club International’s 50 Best Restaurant List.
In a 2013 Condé Nast Traveler article, writer Kevin West explained that visiting Peru opened his eyes to how rich the country’s gastronomy is, and though he’s definitely on the noob side, he’s not the only one stumped by the country’s cuisine. Diego Salazar, a food critic based in Lima, admitted that he also realized how little he knew. “Over a lunch of home-style criollo cooking a few days later, Salazar confessed that even he, a food critic who grew up in Lima, finds it ‘an exercise in humiliation’ to eat in some of the Peruvian capital’s ambitious restaurants, like Malabar, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s ode to Amazonian biodiversity… Salazar’s wife, journalist Lizzy Cantú, added, ‘Half the words you’ve never seen before, and the other half you can’t pronounce. You want to say to the chef, Oh come on! You must have made this up!’” Peruvians have always eaten well; it’s just that the restaurant scene only started flourishing recently. And while this and the economy have helped push the food scene on an international level, it wouldn’t be possible without the country’s diverse agriculture.