I have been into the jungle a couple of times, but for business no for vacations. So, it remains on my list of destinations that I would like to return and learn more. I used to travel by airplane from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, a city in the Southeastern of Peru. Nearby to the Manu, a National Park recognized by the UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, and as a World Heritage Site. On the plane, It is amazing when you take a look through the window, you realize how Mother Nature built a perfect division between the mountains, sometimes with snow at the top, and the jungle, with those huge green trees covering the landscape, it’s breathtaking.
Peru has the second largest portion of Amazon rainforest. Thus, you can find the most exotic and original cuisine from Peru, because of the ingredients that sometimes you will only find in the jungle. Their kitchen seems simple, but it is quite difficult to prepare. The combinations of flavors and fresh ingredients make this cuisine authentic and unique.
Before I write about the most popular dishes, I would like to share with you some incredible fruit that grows in this area, which is known as superfoods, because of their many properties.
Camu Camu: it’s a fruit, completely full of vitamin C. It contains high levels of antioxidants. It is also used for medical purposes to fight against colds and herpes for example. It also prevents muscle breakdown. If you travel to Peru, you can drink fresh juice made with Camu Camu, or you can find Camu Camu as a powder that can be added to your favorite smoothie.
Maracuya: Or passion fruit, full of vitamin A, as well as, vitamin C. Vitamin A is vital to keep our skin and vision healthy. The most interesting health benefit is that passion fruit is a natural stress and anxiety reducer.
Aguaje: This is another nutrient super fruit which has three times more vitamin A than a carrot, it is also very high in vitamin C, and it’s often used to make jam, juice and ice cream. It is also used to treat burns and also known to protect sun damage and as a natural sunblock.
Raw Cacao: being the purest form of chocolate, it’s an amazing antioxidant. Try to make raw cacao part of your regular diet, it’s a natural source of energy, which helps you to stay alerted and focus.
Sacha Inchi seeds: contains all the essential amino acids that our body needs, in the recent years we are using Sacha Inchi seeds to lose weight, it is also used to fight cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
The most popular ingredient in the Amazon cuisine is the bananas. You will find bananas in almost every dish. Fried, boiled, grilled, mashed and raw bananas are the perfect balance in each of these two most famous dishes.
The first one is “Juane” the most traditional and popular dish. The 24th of July we celebrate St. John the Baptist’s and it is very common in the Amazon to cook this dish to celebrate this Catholic day. The “Juane” consists of a bowl of rice stuffed with meat, boiled egg, olives, and spices. You made a ball and then you use banana leaves to wrap the “Juane” and cooked it.
Along with the “Juane” the “Tacacho with Cecina” are the two most typical foods in the Amazon Cuisine. First, the “Tacacho” are round balls made with bananas, it is a mix between yellow and green mashed bananas, seasoned with some herbs, salt, and pepper, incredibly moist and soft, and then the “Cecina” which is smoked pork with traditional spices of the jungle.
Finally, I can’t finish this blog without talking The Amazon River. The Amazon River provides lots of different fresh water fish the most popular is called “Paiche” a huge fish with white meat. It is usually grilled and accompanied with some vegetables and fried bananas.