Tuesday, July 22, 2014

22 Fantastic Peruvian Fruits

Updated 27 October 2017

Peru has a variety of exotic fruits, some are super foods boasting many vitamins and nutrients, others have been said to cure diseases and ailments, like cancer. While you may not have heard of many of them, you've got to try them when you're in Peru. The 3 distinct climates: costa (the coast), selva (the rain forest), sierra (the mountains) and the weather make for affordable, mouth-watering fresh fruit.

Many of the fruits below are said to help prevent cancer since they often contain vitamins and are high in antioxidants. While this may be true, remember that the same can be said about other fresh fruits and vegetables. There is no magic cure-all. Consult your caregiver if necessary.
Aceitunas peruvian olives
From menuperu.elcomercio.pr

Originally from Spain, they were first planted in Parque El Olivar in San Isidro. Olives are often used to decorate Peruvian dishes like Causa, or added to meat in Papa Rellena. You can buy olives practically anywhere, from big grocery stores to little mom and pop places. Some olives are stuffed with peppers while others are simply plain.

From moblog.whmsoft.net
Known as the curvy fruit since it's supposed to help women get an hourglass figure, this fig-sized fruit grows on the Moriche Palm tree. The aguaje has many health benefits, such as being a rich source of Vitamin A (5 times as much as carrots!), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and having phytoestrogens, and being high in antioxidants and electrolytes. However, it doesn't have a strong flavor; some people say it tastes a bit like a carrot. Some people sprinkle a bit of salt on it when they eat it.

Aguaymanto / Physalis 
From inkanatural.com
It's known by a variety of names such as Inca berry, Peruvian groundcherry, Pichuberry, and Peruvian cherry. It's similar to a tomatillo and is a small, round yellowish fruit. It's about the size of a cherry and has small seeds. It tastes a bit tarty and is good in pies. 
It's high in vitamins and low in calories. It's been said to help with lung cancer and other diseases.

Camu Camu
Camu Camu
From onlyfoods.net
Known as nature's Vitamin C, this fruit grows on bushes in the Amazon. Some of the phytochemicals it has are amino acids, valine, leucine. It's also famous for being the plant with the highest source of Vitamin C in the world. It's about the size of a grape and they're also called camu camu berries because of their size. It's famous in Japan, but hardly known in the USA. It's got a bit of a zing to it and tastes a bit tarty.

From Frutales Tropicales
Also known as capulin cherries, these fruits are said to help alleviate respiratory problems. They're similar to the common cherries, but usually have darker skin and are very sweet. They grow in subtropical climates, such as Peru. They're also known as black cherries.


From dragondorado57.blogspot.com
A common ice cream flavor in Peru, this fruit is sweet and and you smell it from far away. It's similar to a custard apple. You eat it like you would a passion fruit; peel off the skin. With lots of essential vitamins (such as B-complex), nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals, chirimoya makes for a healthy snack.

From perudelights.com
Similar to the naranjilla, this fruit grows on a shrub with white hairy twigs. It smells a bit like a tomato, but tastes a bit lemony. There are small seeds inside, but you can eat them. Peru has 4 different types of cocona: small purple-red, medium yellow, round yellow, and pear-shaped. The medium one is the most popular. It makes a very delicious juice.

From Wikipedia Commons
Also known as passion fruit, granadillas are similar to maracuyas, but a lot sweeter. It's orange on the outside and the inside has lots of black seeds covered in a light green pulp. You can eat the seeds. To open it you usually run your nail all around the hard shell and break it in two. They're usually about the size of an egg, but can be bigger.

From mycubantraumas.blogspot.com

Also known as soursop, it's commonly used in ice cream, smoothies, and drinks. Some people have said that it can be used to cure cancer as the fruit attacks cancer cells. It's been used for a couple decades, though there have been no proven studies. It's a large green fruit with thorns on the skin. The white inside is rich, creamy, sweet. Some people say that it tastes like a mix of pineapple, strawberries, coconut, and banana.

From cookingdiva.net
Guaba / Pacay / Guamo / Inga
Also knows as the ice cream bean, this cotton candy fruit is similar to mangosteens and guanabanas. Technically a legume, guabas are often sold by little cholitos on the roadside as buses pass by. Some cross-country buses will stop and the kids will lift the guavas up to the bus windows in an old soda bottle.

They're often sold together in bunches for S/.1. The outside is long green or brown pod, kind of like a green bean, but much longer and thicker. Inside is the fruit all lined up. It's is white and fluffy like a cloud and inside that is a large seed. It tastes like vanilla ice cream and feels like cotton candy. Pop the fruit in your mouth and spit out the seed. Be careful though. I've opened up my share of wormy guabas, so be sure to check for larva before eating.

From theredheadedtraveler.com
Guava / Guayaba
Not to be confused with the guaba (although they sound the same), this fruit is round and pink on the inside. It's grainy and sweet. It's good for making jelly and juice. It's also good for making sweets, such as pastries.

Peruvian lime
From foodologie.com
Ah, the famous Peruvian limas. Known as limons in Peru, these mouth-pukering sour golf ball-sizes fruits are said to have a ton of uses. They're used to "cook" ceviche and also great as a refreshing drink on hot days. My favorite limeade uses agua con gas, which makes a fizzy drink like spritzer. If you're sick you can take a shot of juice and it will cure you. They're also part of Peru's national drink: Pisco Sour.

From elportalperu.com
A favourite ice cream flavour in Peru, this fruit is known as the egg fruit. Green on the outside and bright orange on the inside with a big pit, this fruit tastes a bit like a sweet potato. It's used in many sweets in Peru. It's unique flavour and difficulty finding it elsewhere in the world (Other than Peru, it's only found naturally in parts of Bolivia and Costa Rica) make it a great fruit to try if you visit Peru.

Peruvian mangoes
From imagine-mexico.com
I miss Peruvian mangoes. They're cheap, fresh, and can easily be bought on the streets. There are many different varieties of mangoes, but the most common ones with reddish skin and ones with orange skin. I always had trouble cutting mangoes. The easiest thing to do is to cut it in half. Twist the seed out. Then cut into the fruit, to make small squares; be careful not to cut the skin. Then turn it inside out.

From delagranja.co
Similar to granadilla, this fruit is also known as passion fruit. Maracuyas are much more sour than granadillas and I've never eaten them plain. When I first got to Peru I heard people rave about how delicious they were so I went out and bought a bagful. At home I patiently tried to peel them. After a while I called a friend who couldn't stop laughing at me. She told me to cut them in half and scoop the inside out to make juice. Just add sugar and water. Be sure to strain the seeds off before drinking. Maracuya juice is very delicious, if you get the chance to try some, please do!

Noni fruit
From gojiberriesblog.com
Green and bumpy on the outside and white with seeds on the inside, this fruit can be eaten cooked or raw. It's really good cooked with coconut milk. If you eat it raw, some people enjoy sprinkling salt on it. Others like to juice it.

A few years ago noni fruit was all the rage. You could find it in the health food stores back home in pill, teas, or liquid form. Like many Peruvian fruits it's a super food. It's claimed to help a variety of ailments, there is no reliable evidence to prove this. In Peru you could often find it sold in health stores as a juice and is said to aid in weight loss.

Peruvian paltas
From theglobalfruit.com
Otherwise known as avocados, paltas are absolutely fantastic in Peru. In other Spanish speaking countries, no one will know what you're talking about if you say palta, since they're known as aguacates.

Vendors often sell them on the roadside in carts. You can usually get one for a sol. They're bigger and less round than what you'd find back home. They also have big round ones that cost a bit more. I recommend buying them straight from the vendors.  If you tell the vendor when you'd like to eat them, they'll help pick them out for you. I'd often buy two to eat that day and two for the next day. I rarely had any bad avocados.

Palta rellana is a popular side dish in Peru that uses avocadoes. It's is cut and a filling made with onions, carrots, chili peppers, chicken, shrimp, or tomatoes. Mayonnaise is usually added to that and the filling is put where the pit used to be.

melon pear
From growfruit.tripod.com
Pepino Dulce
Pepino dulce, not to be confused with pepino, which is a cucumber, is also known as sweet cucumber or melon pear. It's beige on the outside and a bit darker on the inside. There are seeds on the inside that you can scoop out. You can cut it horizontally or vertically in order to get the seeds out. It's light and refreshing and tastes a bit like cantaloupe.

Pitahaya Dragon Fruit
From wikipedia.org
Also known as dragon fruit, it's just as fantastic to look at it as it is to eat it. Bright pink with green on the tips of the layers and white with black edible seeds on the inside, it's certainly a sight to behold. This exotic cactus fruit tastes a bit like watermelon and kiwi. To eat simply chill in the fridge for a bit, cut open, and scoop the inside out.

tumbo banana passionfruit
From limaeasy.com
Also known as banana passion fruit, tumbos are yellow on the outside and dark orange on the inside.You can find tumbos growing all over Cusco. They're great for quenching thirst. The inside looks similar to maracuya and granadillas. Like the latter, the seeds of the tumbo can be eaten.

You can use it to make jams, marmalade, and juice. Tumbo sour, an alcoholic drink, can also be made with this fruit.

Tuna fruit prickly pear
From kitchenlaw.blogspot.com
Also known as prickly pear, tuna is similar to tumbo as they're both cactus fruits. Baloo from the jungle book eat some while singing, "The Bear Necessities". It's bright pink or green with prickles on the outside and bright pink with black edible seeds on the inside. The inside is like the tumbo. You can buy it from January to March and you'll usually get three tunas for 1 sol. It tastes like watermelon, raspberries, and kiwi all rolled into one.

From http://www.foodpyramid.com/yacon/
While probably a vegetable, yacons are sweet and often used in fruit recipes, such as salpicon. It tastes a little bit like a cross between celery and Granny Smith apples. They're usually a dark yellowish brown or red on the outside. It looks like a long sweet potato. The inside can be yellow, orange, red, pink, or purple. The texture is like yucca or cassava. Some people peel it and eat it raw. Others fry, bake, roast, or even juice it. You can also use it to make chips.

More Info
Here are some more posts that might interest you.
If you're interested in finding out more about Peruvian gastronomy, check out The Fire of Peru and Gaston Acurio's cookbook. There are also lots of Peruvian remedies that use traditional Peruvian foods.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

3 Reasons Why Peruvians Prefer Not to Get Married

Many people ask me about whether they should marry their Peruvian boyfriend or girlfriend and what documents are required to get married in Peru. Marriage seems to be getting less popular these days. Not only in Peru, but worldwide. Here are three reasons why I believe Peruvians would rather have parejas (partners) than get married. There are a lot of hoops you'll have to jump through if you want to get a divorce in Peru.

Peruvians aren't as Catholic as they think they are
From www.chattycatholics.blogspot.com
Despite the fact that most Peruvians perceive themselves as being Catholic, I just don't see this as being true. I, personally, would refer to them as lapsed Catholics, meaning that they'd probably only attend church for weddings, funerals, Easter, and Christmas. While I don't think that you have to go to church to be religious, I also don't see them practice what they're preaching.

Catholicism does not allow living together before marriage (ie living in sin) or having children out of wedlock (ie illegitimate children) and many Peruvians do both of these things.

Despite the number of times I see it I'll always find it a bit disturbing to see people shouting or arguing on the bus, pass a church, and frantically cross themselves many times over, and then go back to shouting or arguing. It's almost a superstition rather than a religion in my opinion.

Divorce is painful
People get divorced for different reasons, some people fall out of love, others realise they are more different than they thought, others were taken advantage of by bricheros or bricheras.  Going to marry a Peruvian? Make an effort to learn about the culture and the language.

Despite being common, divorce isn't easy; few divorces are truly amicable. Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people even with spouses who get along, but just don't love each other anymore. People fight about money, children, material goods, retirement portfolios, and even friends. Skeletons come out of the closet and the people become very bitter as divorce drags on.
From millennialinflux.com

Peru's becoming more liberal
Along with many countries around the world, things that were once taboo, such as living together before marriage, having sex before marriage, having kids outside of marriage, gay rights, abortion, and so on, are not only accepted, but people who disagree with these topics are often perceived as being old-fashioned or backwards.

Look at the picture on the right. Well 38% of people surveyed think it's a bad thing to live together, 50% don't think it matters at all and 10% actually think it's good. The people who think it's bad are in the minority and that number's just going to decrease in the future as people become more forward minded.


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