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Cheap Eats in Peru - Menú

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, January 23, 2010


One of the great perks about living in Peru is that you don't need to spend a lot of money to eat great Peruvian food.  Those living in Peru eating fairly healthy in comparison to what most Americans consume.  For the past years the US has tried very hard to encourage Americans to eat healthier as it's population's obesity levels continue to rise (somewhere around 65%).  Granted eating healthy is only one aspect that contributes to obesity but it is one that has a larger impact.  While fast food franchises like Mcdonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's, Tony Romas, TGI FRIDAY'S, Chili's, and Burger King continue to invade the country most Peruvians still can't afford to eat regularly at such establishments.  For the large majority of the population their daily diet consists of eating meals made from scratch.  Whether prepared at home or eaten at a market or restaurant, the most common preparation of meals in Peru is done with raw and fresh ingredients that are purchased locally.  The overall quality of a meal may vary from cook to cook but the concept remains the same, fresh ingredients. 

In Lima, like most other places in Peru lunch is the dominant meal for Peruvians with breakfast and dinner playing smaller roles.  From noon til 2pm it isn't uncommon to see restaurants and markets crowded with hungry patrons, as the lunch hour is the time where most Peruvians head out for lunch.  The economical choice for lunch in Peru is to order from what is called the menú in Spanish which means menu.  The menú is a predetermined list of lunch options for the patron to choose from and is commonly divided into two sections.  The first section being the starter menu or entrada, this portion of the menu consists of a small starter usually a soup of some kind and/or a dish like Crema de Rocoto (sliced potatoes served with a spicy rocoto pepper sauce).  The second portion of the menu consists of the main courses or segundo.  The segundo can vary from many different Peruvian staples like Cau Cau (made from the small intestine) to Arroz a la Cubana (a very simple criollo dish made up of rice, fried eggs, and fried plantain bananas) or Lomo Saltado to Tallarin Verde (Spaghetti with Spinach sauce).  When a person orders from the menú their meal isn't completed until they are offered their beverage or refresco.  A refresco is a drink made using herbs (like yerba Luisa), fruits (like apples, star fruit, maracuya, or granadilla), or spices (cinnamon), and boiling them in water allowing the heat to extract the flavors of the ingredients used to create a wonderful and refreshing drink (which is usually served room temperature).

If it sounds like a lot of food to eat it's important to take into consideration that very little food is eaten during both breakfast and dinner, therefore a hardy and plentiful serving of food at lunch is crucial for Peruvians returning to work (most Peruvians work from 9am to 6:30pm, sometimes later).  One might also expect to pay quite a bit for such a meal but in Peru the menú is one of the most economical lunch options with the cheapest being S/. 3.00 (roughly $1 USD, take THAT McDonald's Dollar Value Menu!).  It should be considered that the price of a menú may vary in price depending on the location of the restaurant or market (in Miraflores and San Isidro the menú is roughly S/. 7.00). 

A quick note, most restaurants and markets in Lima offer a menú during the lunch hour, but it is crucial that you show up early since the better menú options disappear quickly. 

1 Responses to Cheap Eats in Peru - Menú

  1. CANICA Says:
  2. all Peru is wonderful, visit us!!! also peruvian food is delicious, you have to try it!!!

    greetings from Peru
    http://cooking-classes-with-cheff-bigotes.blogspot.com/

     

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