Andes Overland

Culture & Food!

The Bolivian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Colombian cuisines are diverse varying with altitude, regions and associated with agricultural traditions. The foods in all four countries however have a lot of things in common, most importantly carbohydrate-rich foods, rice, corn, and potatoes. Tropical fruit is in all four countries widely available at a low price. Try Naranjilla, Guanabana or the pink and yellow Dragonfruits. “Almuerzo” which is Spanish for lunch, is the most important meal and consists of 2 dishes, a soup and a rice platter.

The soup is often filled with potatoes, corn, meat or vegetables and cream.  The rice platter is always served with protein, chicken, pork, beef or fish.  There are some “traditional dishes” we can recommend you to try during your trip. Salteñas (Bolivia) or Empanada’s are savory pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken mixed in a sweet, slightly spicy or very spicy sauce, and sometimes also containing peas, potatoes and other ingredients. In some restaurants they will also offer a vegetarian version. If you are a bit shivery to try new dishes than this is a perfect one to start with.  Other traditional dishes which are very safe to try are “pan de yuca” and “llapingachos” in Ecuador. Pan de Yuca consists of yucca starch, cheese, butter and eggs and is often served with yoghurt and fruit smoothies. Yuca bread makes a delicious warm appetizer. Llapingochos are cookies made from potatoes which are filled with cheese! You can buy them nearly everywhere. If Peru had an official national dish, it would probably be the preparation of raw fish marinated in citrus juice, called Ceviche. The acid in the fruit “cooks” the fish, giving it a delicate flavor and slightly chewy consistency. The dish is usually spiced with red onion and aji pepper, and served (typically at lunch) with sweet potato or choclo, a white Andean corn with dime-size kernels. One thing that has to be on the list of “national” food in both Peru and Ecuador is cuy, for others maybe known as guinea pig or cavia. It’s a bit pathetic to see that creature stretched on your plate but if you are into trying something new than this is highly recommended. Are you traveling to Colombia? Try Patacones (fried green plantains), Sanchocho de Gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables) and Ajiaco (potato and corn soup). For the big eaters among us you can try Bandeja paisa,red beans cooked with pork, white rice, carne molida (meat), chicharrón, fried egg, plantain (patacones), chorizo, arepa, hogoa sauce, morcilla (black pudding), avocado and lemon. Be surprised by the delicious kitchen of all 4 countries and enjoy your meals, or as we say in Spanish:  іBuen provecho!