Finding gluten-free and especially vegetarian food is still very tricky in Peru.
Why: (Due to differences in languages and culture)
Vegetarian food without meat (comida sin carne) often means food without every meat except chicken. Because "carne" does not include "pollo" or processed meat like ham, salami, ground meat.
It is a common missunderstanding in many restaurants that if you order a dish without meat, you get one with chicken or other processed meat.
Eating meat is important for Peruvians. It shows that you work hard and you can afford to buy meat. If you are invited to a dinner or lunch, there will be meat, because your host wants to show you: it is an honor to have you.
Besides that many Peruvians just love chicken ("pollo a la brasa" (a rotisserie chicken dish) or "caldo blanco" (chicken soup)).
But there are dishes which are vegetarian and gluten free:
- "Choclo con queso" is cooked corncob with a salty cheese
- "Chupe de viernes" is a vegetable soup with fish (depends on your diet)
- "Cauche de queso" is a cheese soup with onions and tomatoes
- "Papa a la huancaina or Ocopa" potatoes with a delicious sauce based on peruvian chillies, onions, cheese
- "Causa a la limeña" is a type of mashed potatoes mixed with avocado, eggs and sometimes tuna
- "Ceviche" a sour fish-salad, served with corn, sweet potatoes
See the link of typical Peruvian dishes below.
There is a way to eat gluten-free and vegetarian; if you cannot find any vegetarian dish on the menu, you can ask for plain rice, corn or cooked (sweet) potatoes, sometimes quinoa (exist in ever restaurant, because they are the base for almost every Peruvian dish).
There are vegetarian restaurants in bigger cities like Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. I can really recommend to try the restaurants of the Hare Krishna communities, because they have a huge experience cooking veg using different vegetables, herbs and grains and not only apply meat-dishes on a vegetarian diet for vegetarian tourists.
In Plaza Vea, Wong, Candy, El Super - the big supermarkets - you can find gluten free products. If you go on a trek or longer journey into the jungle prepare yourself.
If you go to the huge markets you can find typical vegetables and fruits:
- camu camu
- tumbo serrano
I survived in Peru with my flexible vegetarian/vegan/less gluten diet and tried wonderful dishes, fruits and vegetables. My advice is, communicate: what is my wish, problem, allergy, then there is always a solution, but don't expect that words like gluten-intolerant, vegetarian or vegan are common. Stay flexible.
Peruvian dishes in english and spanish
Example of gluten-free products in Wong supermarket