Going Beyond the Pisco in Peru

Going Beyond the Pisco in Peru

Causa en Lapa is a traditional north Peruvian dish containing fish, corn, potatoes, peppers, and a hardboiled egg.

THERE’S MORE TO Peru than Machu Picchu, and there’s much more to Peruvian cuisine than just ceviche and Pisco.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held this year from June 24-28 and July 1-5 in Washington, D.C., introduces visitors to more authentic aspects of Peruvian culture, such as Chinchero weaving techniques, the national Marinera dance, and regional recipes that go beyond our one-dimensional perceptions. And you don’t even need a plane ticket if you live nearby.

In a country where the landscape fluctuates between beaches, mountains, and rain forests, it’s no surprise that Peruvian food can’t be explained in just one dish. Here are three specialties featured at the festival that are guaranteed to expand your culinary Peruvian palate—and yes, we’ll forgive you if wash them down with Pisco Sours.

Causa en Lapa

In the town of Huanchaco on the northern Peruvian coast, locals catch this entree’s staple—bacalao—on the same type of handcrafted reed rafts they used 5,000 years ago. Cooked in a clay pot, the cod-like fish complements Papa Maria potatoes—one of the country’s 2,000 potato varieties—which are pureed with the seafood broth instead of butter and milk. Corn and a hardboiled egg, along with a mixture of lemon, onions, vinegar, and peppers, top the dish, traditionally served in a dried gourd.

Pacamoto, a native Peruvian dish made with fish stuffed in a bamboo pole and cooked over fire.


The Wachiperi community in the Peruvian Amazon keep the ingredients for their special occasion pacamoto recipe simple: fish, bamboo, and banana leaves. The real skills lie in the preparation. After the bocachico fish crosses paths with a bow and arrow, it’s salted and stuffed into a ripe, green bamboo stalk. A banana leaf plugs the stalk’s opening, while the log roasts over an open flame. A machete, or an extra sharp kitchen knife, then cracks the well-done bamboo in half to free the fish—served on a banana leaf with boiled yucca and heart of palm.

Peruvian women demonstrate native dishes in a kitchen on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2015, while onlookers are reflected in a mirror above them.

Lucuma and Cherimoya Gelato

Gelato might not be the most obvious choice when it comes to Peruvian cuisine, but the country’s Superfruits seem to have been cultivated with ice cream in mind. The lucuma, which looks like a cousin of the avocado when sliced in half, tastes like a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato—a nutty flavor you’d expect to see Starbucks introduce in its next line of fall lattes. Or try the tart cherimoya flavor, crowned “the most delicious fruit known to men” by Mark Twain. Both flavors are available at the festival, or year-round at Firenzes Gelateria & Cafe in Annapolis, Maryland, and probably at Machu Picchu.

The 9 Best Gelato Places in Maryland!

The 9 Best Gelato Places in Maryland!

Gelato is one of the best desserts to finish off a delicious meal. This sweet, Italian ice cream is dense and delectable, and served up authentically in Maryland. This cool, refreshing dessert can become your favorite if you find the right spot to get it and here are our nine favorites!

1. Italian Market, Annapolis, MD

The Italian Market is a destination in and of itself. Here you can find Italian meats and cheeses like you would at a traditional Italian butcher shop. Plus, for dessert, you can treat yourself to fresh and fantastic Gelato. It is full of flavor and the entire market/restaurant is highly traditional. You can come here to shop, eat lunch, have dessert and leave incredibly satisfied.

2. Pitango Gelato, Fells Point, MD

Located near the water taxi stop, Pitango is a favorite summertime destination in B-Town. They only use milk produced by grass-fed cows and their Gelato is entirely organic. Even their flavoring is all natural, using real berries and chocolate instead of the artificial stuff. Their Gelato is clean, healthy and absolutely delicious. You can taste the difference that farm fresh ingredients make.

3. Firenzes Gelateria & Café, Annapolis, MD

Incredible taste and unique flavors define Firenzes. A newer addition to Annapolis, they are located in the Market House and a popular destination for both tourists and locals looking for something cold but different from traditional ice cream.

4. Melt, Rockville, MD

Melt is a destination throughout the year because their Gelato is so delicious. Made using fresh ingredients and precision, this is where locals come to cool off and taste a fabulous dessert when looking for something outside the box and tasty.

5. Dolcezza, Bethesda, MD

Farm fresh, local ingredients are combined to create this organic and tasty Gelato. Some of their flavors include Thai coconut milk, black sesame, Vietnamese cinnamon, rye whiskey pecan praline, and King Leo peppermint. These are just a few of the incredible flavors that they feature and change on a regular basis. Nothing like traditional ice cream, you are sure to enjoy it.

6. Dolci Gelati, Takoma Park, MD

This artisan Gelato company was founded by chef Gianluigi Dellaccio. The Gelato is made using milk from local farms and freshly picked fruits, along with chocolate that has been imported from small farms in Ecuador. This Gelato is creative, magical, unique and delicious. Chef Dellaccio likens himself to a chemist combining the most perfect ingredients so expect something spectacular when trying flavors like butter pecan, espresso, key lime, maple bacon, and toasted coconut

7. Lilit Café, Bethesda, MD

This café is an excellent place for breakfast, lunch or a casual dinner. Using fresh ingredients, they create interesting dishes and the atmosphere promotes savoring them. For dessert, you can try their homemade Gelato in a variety of flavors. They even offer free samples to help you choose.

8. Kefa Café, Silver Spring, MD

Whether you want fresh Gelato or a hot cup of coffee, the Kefa Café is where you want to go to unwind and relax with friends. The cool, casual and friendly vibe of the place makes it possible to stay for a while and truly kick back. It’s been a local favorite for years and with good reason.

9. Zed’s Café, Silver Spring, MD

Bring your laptop or a good book, meet up with friends or study all afternoon. You can do this and more at Zed’s Café without feeling rushed. Since you can stay for hours, be sure to end your trip with a large Gelato.