The typical dishes you can find in the Sacred Valley, are similar to the dishes you can taste in Cusco and Machu Picchu. It´s a varied gastronomy characterized not only by its flavor and by a combination of traditional Andean products in the region; influences also for being one of the living expressions and more representative of the southern Andean culture in Peru.
Which may sound strange to many people, eating guinea pigs is quite common in Peru, mostly on special occasions like birthdays. The animals actually originate from the Andean region and were originally raised specifically for eating. The taste is unique and hard to describe, maybe a mix of chicken and rabbit. It is served as a whole, including the head, teeth and legs, which makes it a once in a lifetime experience.
Corn and Rice
It may sounds simple, and it is, but it’s really tasty. It’s more of a snack, unless it accompanies a larger meal. All over the city and up by Sacsayhuaman you’ll find ladies selling steaming hot corn with tasty and unique tasting local cheese. You should definitely give it a try as it’s very cheap and really good. We particularly love it when it’s a bit chilly outside because it can really warm you up.
This bread is from The Village of Oropesa, a few minutes from the city of Cusco. Commonly called "pan Chuta". For visitors of Cusco, one of the things that most classic of Cusco is the bread of Oropesa or "Chuta"; this bread is made with local ingredients, pleasant taste and artisan baking.
This bread is ideal when people from Cusco have a teatime; accompanied this sweet bread, buttered and hot coffee is a treat for the palate. They sell in the city markets especial in San Pedro market.
Tamales are a kind of very famous cakes throughout Peru, on the coast, mountains and jungle; each has its own way of development with their own inputs. The tamale in Cusco is a preparation of pleasant sweet or salty taste, made with the ground, white and fresh corn, from the Sacred Valley and other traditional inputs in the region.
The tamales are prepared by the Cusco families with the same homemade recipe for over 90 years. On the other hand, you can find any day of the week in a corner of Portal Belen, located just meters from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco or Main Square of Cusco.
Last but not least, the Peruvian cuisine also offers some sweet treats you simply can’t resist. Picarones are the Peruvian equivalent to American doughnuts but made out of mashed sweet potato and local squash. The deep fried picarones are quite often sold by street vendors and served with chancaca, a citrusy molasses syrup.
Llama or Alpaca Beef
Lomo saltado is a very popular dish in Peru, a blend of the Chinese way of cooking and Peruvian ingredients. It’s a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of meat with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients; and is typically served with rice. Beef is the standard meat to use, but alpaca meat is also quite typical for the region of Cusco.
The stuffed rocoto peppers are one of the most typical dishes of Cusco, although originally coming from Arequipa. Often served as street food, it’s also common as a side dish for e.g. cuy chactado. Ingredients vary from time to time, but may include minced beef, onions, carrots, peas, olives, peanuts, garlic and eggs.
Another hearty meal that we think you really need to give a go before you leave. The traditional, and most tasty, the method is by frying the pork slowly in its own fat. It’s obviously not the healthiest option but now and again it can be a real treat.