Food Culture, Restaurants, Traditional Food

Lima’s Food Carts Delight with Quality and History

One of the Many Food Carts in Lima

The joy of having something delicious in your mouth has no price. It is even better if we obtain it as we leave places that we like to go to and at a cost that is affordable to all. All of this is offered us buy the famous food carts of Lima’s street corners.

To eat well, it is said, you do not necessarily need to go to fabulous restaurants, nor to the world’s most important cities. This phrase is well known throughout Latin America where it points to the quality of local and traditional food offerings.

Anticuchos Grilling on Lima's Streets
Anticuchos Grilling on Lima’s Streets

Given the heritage of good food in Lima, Peru, with its diverse gastronomy inundated with flavor, you can find delights on many of the city’s streets. Good food appears in the doorways of the stadiums, by the main entrances of the universities, and in a seeming infinite quantity of places where there is foot traffic and two square meters of space free such that a food cart can fit.

The food carts are small spaces for making and serving food and are portable. Made from metal or wood, from them are sold a whole range of food at a modest cost. In this way people can enjoy quality food without much wait. The people who work the stands are friendly creoles, people from the main segments of society, who have a confidence and a friendliness given to all. With that quick charm they win the warmth and loyalty of customers, creating in the process an atmosphere where customers can enjoy their products.

But it was not always like this. Though there is a long tradition of street food in Lima and elsewhere in Peru, most people were suspicious of it and skeptical. As a result, people who tried to expand the offerings or do something new were people of limited resources whose last option to survive was to make food and take it into the street to sell to people who were in a hurry. Traditionally the food was not thought to be of the same quality as now. It was thought to simply be food that at the cost of one sol would fool your hunger for a while. Both the vendors and clients were people who had scant resources and little social status.

Food Thrills on the Streets of Lima
Food Thrills on the Streets of Lima

Now, street food is much more acceptable and its quality, hygiene, and presentation have improved. Investors have seen it is a good business with a low initial investment and a high rate of profit. As a result, trained cooks and chefs who desire to have their own place but do not have the required capital for a restaurant, took on the adventure of opening food carts.

After the first trained cooks showed the profitability of this business model, their colleagues saw chances and joined them in the streets. They began to compete with one another and the quality inevitably rose.

The greatest success came when Gastón Acurio located Peruvian cuisine as one of high quality and international success. At the same time, with his program “Rutas de Sabor” he traveled the highways and byways of Peru to look for the finest cooks, foods, and products. In this way good food carts became known on Peruvian TV. Acurio provided them with free marketing. After this all the social classes of Peru began going into the streets to eat. They forgot their prejudices and class consciousnesses in this and began to discover Creole flavors they never imagined.

Anticuchos for Sale at Mistura
Anticuchos for Sale at Mistura

The carts gained popular acceptance and through the last years, because of their improved quality and cleanliness, the recompense was great. People noticed these changes and began eating at the carts with greater frequency and enjoying what was offered. Though you can find many different kinds of food, the specialty is Peruvian food in all its splendor.

Today we can approach small carts and find a variety of food. Each has a small menu of dishes we can choose from.

Besides ceviche, another food has also propelled the food cart trend forward. This is anticuchos (skewers of meat). It has surpassed all expectations and come to be the most popular in the competitions in gastronomic fairs, especially in the 2012 Mistura Fair. The liens were interminable. At the end of the festival, more than 200,000 anticuchos had been sold. It was a veritable record and was won on the basis of years of hard work. Vendors never thought they would receive that attention, since they only thought of working to be able to meet their daily needs and expenses by using the art they had been born to.

By now, food carts in Lima are reaching a level of very fine food. The flavor, variety, individual styles, and fine attention are truly great. Yet the price remains comfortable for all.

As a result, food carts are the perfect place for us to restore out stomachs and gain delights. As a result do not doubt to go to these carts. The surprise they will give you will keep you coming back.

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