Peru Travel: The World's Best Culinary Destination

Guest blogger Paul Jones lives in Peru and writes for Totally Latin America S.A, a specialized travel company that plans and operates Custom Peru Vacations.

Although the title of this article might seem a little ambiguous, you might want to watch this space, because the lesser known cuisine of Peru is starting to grab headlines and the world's attention. So much so, that at the recent World Travel Awards held in Delhi, Peru beat off strong competition from countries like Italy, China, Thailand, Mexico, Japan and France to take home the prize of ''World's Leading Culinary Destination 2012.''

The foundation of Peru's rich culinary scene starts from its unique and rich landscape. With topographical regions that encompass an incredible 90 different micro-climates spanning sun soaked deserts, high altitude mountains and vast tropical jungles; Peru has the ability to produce a huge range of regular, exotic and even just outright bizarre ingredients.

Furthermore, not only is Peru blessed with vast land resources, it also has some of the richest seas in the world. Home to several hundred species of fish, Peru's nutrient-rich waters teem with high-value species like sea bass, mackerel, tuna, herring, anchoveta and other marine life such as crab, lobster, and molluscs.

Unlike the more adventurous cuisines found in Asia and other parts of the world, traditional Peruvian cooking utilizes a large percentage of ingredients that most of us are already familiar with. Ingredients like camote (sweet potato), beans, rice, corn, chicken, beef and fish all regularly feature on restaurant menus, meaning that delving into a plate of Peruvian food may not be a as squeamish as you might have first thought.

The words ''novoandina'' and ''fusion cooking'' are common terms used to describe Peruvian cuisine, but put simply, the success of Peruvian cuisine is the coming together of all the influences of its migrant past combined with the unique flavors of its native ingredients. Of-course, a good portion of Latin flair and passion for cooking also helps!

One of the most famous dishes from Peru is ceviche. Although Chileans might argue that it is their national plate, ceviche is a simple dish of fresh fish marinated in garlic, onions, lime juice and spicy rocoto pepper, served up with a side of mote (large Andean corn) and a few slices of sweet potato.

Many of Peru's traditional dishes are actually created by its remarkable ancestry. Lomo saltado con tacu tacu is a dish that takes influences from the countries early African slave origins and Asian immigrants. The dish is created with a base of gently fried beans and rice before being topped off with a tasty Asian style beef stir fry.

Incredibly, much of the success and promotion of Peru's gastronomic scene is down to the dedication and hard work of the Peruvian celebrity chef Gaston Acurio. His original restaurant Astrid & Gaston, which he started with his German wife and business partner, went on to become the foundation for a hugely successful restaurant empire. Now with many restaurants located throughout Peru and the world, Gaston has become an important and passionate ambassador of Peruvian cuisine. Gaston recently collected the prestigious White Guide's 2013 Global Gastronomy Award, in recognition of ''having developed a rich local cuisine, with a vision of the future, known as novoandina food''.

If you want to try innovative and tasty cuisine, then go Latin and delve in to a new and exciting world that is Peruvian gastronomy.

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(Photo: Paul Jones)

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