TORONTO — From the heights of the Andes to the depths of Colca Canyon, one thing is clear: Peru is a country of contrasts, and that also includes its food.
Thanks to its cultural diversity and geographical regions, it’s no wonder why Peru has consistently been ranked as the world’s top culinary destination for the past decade.
Travelweek caught up with Dave Marathakis, National Sales Manager for Contiki to find out his top seven dishes your clients must try the next time you book them on a Peruvian adventure with Contiki.
Regardless if your clients are of the ‘live to eat’ or ‘eat to live’ philosophy, Peru has something for every taste bud.
While this method of preparing seafood – raw ‘cooked’ in citrus – isn’t exclusive to South America, Peru certainly has the world’s best thanks to its long Pacific coastline. In fact, Marathakis explains, “There’s actually a heated battle in Latin America surrounding who has the best ceviche, but everyone knows that Peru is definitely up there.” If your clients are all about seafood, savouring ceviche in Peru is a must.
It may have never crossed your client’s mind as a potential protein source, but cuy (guinea pig) is a very big deal in Peru. Some Peruvians eat it regularly, and for others it’s only eaten on special occasions – much like turkey on Thanksgiving. Marathakis adds: “It’s a local specialty with a unique chicken or rabbit flavour. Clients should try this at least once and they’ll get an opportunity to do so when in Cusco on our Peru Uncovered trip.”
This is how you do portable food the right way (no offense, Pizza Pockets)! Chicken, cheese, veggie, beef – regardless of what you order, if it’s in empanada form it’s going to be delicious. Whether it’s just one as a snack or a couple of each flavour to make it a meal – baked or fried – variety is the name of the game.
If you think quinoa was only recently discovered by Crossfitters and Paleo-only diners, think again. Peruvians have been eating this protein-packed grain for thousands of years. Marathakis says: “When in Peru, experience quinoa the way it’s meant to be eaten: on its own, in soups, cold salads, in drinks, desserts and in a bunch of beautiful colours and varieties.” One delicious example, Peruvians use quinoa to make picarones, which are sweet treats similar to churros.
No trip to Peru is complete without a sip, or three, of the famous Pisco Sour. Made with lime or lemon juice, bitters, simple syrup and egg whites with Pisco brandy, Marathakis says: “Peru’s signature cocktail is so good that your clients will definitely be trying to figure out how to make one when they get home.” When you book clients on Contiki’s 11-day Inca Panorama small group adventure, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to wash their meals down with some Pisco Sours, especially in Lima.
Italy might have gelato, but Peru has queso helado. Equally as legendary, and just as delicious, the name directly translates to frozen cheese. Take some sweet and milky shaved ice, top it with a dash of cinnamon and you’ve got a super refreshing and addictive dessert that’s guaranteed to be a client favourite. Marathakis adds, “Arequipa is described as the birthplace of this delicious dessert. Clients who travel on The Adventurer trip will be able to find out for themselves why queso helado is such a favourite.”
Talk about fusion food to the max. This isn’t one particular dish per se. The whole food category of Chifa is a Peruvian-only style of fusion cooking that was born thanks to a wave of Chinese immigration in the late 19th century. Combining Chinese, Spanish, indigenous and Peruvian cuisines has created a new culinary category that provides unique twist on the Chinese food clients might be used to at home. “While you don’t generally come to Peru for Chinese food, you really do need to come for Chifa,” explains Marathakis.
From now until April 14 Contiki is offering $250 off its most popular trips that visit Peru for a limited-time, in partnership with PROMPERÚ, as part of its Contiki SEVEN campaign.
Trips include Peru Uncovered, Ultimate Inca Trail, Bolivian Magic, Andean Crossing, The Explorer, The Adventurer, The Latin Quest and Bella Bolivia.
Agents can also turn every Contiki booking into a cash incentive. With the launch of its revamped Contiki Rewards program for 2019, agents can earn $250 for every five passengers booked on any Contiki trips that are over seven days. For every additional five passengers booked, agents will receive another $250 in cash.
Agents can also enter to win prize packs throughout the campaign on the Contiki Canada Travel Agents Facebook page, plus both agents and clients are eligible to enter the national grand prize giveaway for a trip plus airfare.