Running low on energy? There’s a juice for that. Starting to feel a cold coming on? Have some elderberry jam. Peru has a wide range of natural and medicinal foods that can solve just about any human ailment. Learn about some of these useful Peruvian foods in advance of your private Peru vacation and be revitalized with new energy during your travels.
Also called Peruvian Black Mint, this indigenous herb has a strong aroma and a distinctive flavor reminiscent of mint, lime, tarragon and basil. Since Inca times, Peruvians have reached for huacatay at the onset of a cold, flu or stomach bug as well as to add aromatic flavoring to ocopa (a potato dish with a cheesy sauce), various sauces, meat dishes, soups and stews. Huacatay is not easily found in the U.S., so you might want to purchase reserves of the herb during your exclusive tour of Peru.
This flu-fighting, asthma-aiding herb is a staple in Peruvian gastronomy. It is, in particular, an essential ingredient for making Pachamanca, a traditional barbecue dish made by wrapping meat in bijao leaves and baking the parcel in an underground earth oven. Pachamanca isn’t an ordinary meal, but more of a special-occasion, ceremonial-style affair that pays homage to Mother Earth, or as the Quechan people call her, the Pachamama.
Another herb used in the Pachamanca and in other Andean dishes, muña is part of the mint family and has a robust mint-like flavor not too dissimilar to American pennyroyal. Its high calcium content supports healthy bones and teeth, and it is also used to soothe upset stomachs. You can usually find bunches of muña right next to the huacatay at local markets all over Peru.
Spreading a sauco berry jam on your toast or dipping your alpaca into a sauco sauce won’t just please your tastebuds; it may also help improve vision, boost immunity, strengthen the heart and stave off colds, flus, viruses, bacterial infections and even tonsillitis. With tons of antioxidants, this delicious berry is also a good all-round wellness booster to keep you feeling fit and energized. Seek out sauco jam, yoghurts and condiments at Andean open-air markets during your private Peru holiday.
This sweet Andean tuber is used in syrups as a substitute for obesity-causing sugar and other sweeteners. The secret to its health-giving properties is inulin, which is considered particularly suitable for diabetics because it breaks down a lot more slowly in the body than sugar. Yacón can help dieters shed pounds as well as boost the immune system.
JUGO DE RANA (FROG JUICE)
Perhaps the most unusual medicinal food of Peru, this drink is served up in juice bars across the country. It is, as the name suggests, literally made from pureed frogs, which are blended with fruit juices, honey, maca and/or aloe vera. The resulting beverage is said to improve sexual stamina and increase energy levels – converts claim a glass of it gives them enough energy to last an entire day. Braver travelers can test it out for themselves at the juice stands at Lima’s Surquillo Market during their personalized tour of Peru.
In Peru, Hippocrates’ aphorism is taken to heart; food and medicine are intertwined.
The superfoods, medicinal foods and ancestral foods of Peru are among the greatest treasures that this country has gifted to the wider world.