Edible souvenirs? Why not? In Peru, a country with such a rich cuisine, the options in the choice of local foods are abundant.
These tastes will take you back to your travels and bring your travels close to those who couldn't join you! Just one note: make sure you're allowed to bring back these edible souvenirs, customs can be strict. Having said that, let’s take a look at some good options.
Quinoa and Other Superfoods
Maca, chia, amaranth, quinoa in different colors… all of these are cultivated in Peru. You'll find the superfoods in markets, where you can buy them in bulk; as well as on supermarket shelves, which may be preferable for international travel so that at border crossings there will be no doubt what's in your luggage.
The Peruvian version of Himalayan salt, Maras Salt is harvested from evaporation ponds situated near Cusco. The age-old system was built by the Incas and is still in use by families who work in cooperatives. You can buy the salt on the spot, on markets and in supermarkets. The salt commonly used in cooking is sal rosada (pink salt) while flor de sal is the culinary salt for the finishing touch to your dish.
Cacao and Cacao Shells
The cacao plantations are to be found in the lowlands of Peru. You may see the cacao beans drying along the side of the road, where you can buy them on the spot or you can shop for them on markets. Peel the beans and eat the cacao nibs as a treat although the strong, bitter flavor may be an acquired taste. You can also buy just the shells, which local people use to steep their tea in.
Apart from cacao plantations, Peru also cultivates coffee. Buy the beans on the market or in specialized coffee shops where they will roast and grind the beans to your liking.
For those with an extremely sweet tooth, Inca Cola is Peru’s answer to Coca Cola. The bright-yellow soda is found all over the country and drunk in vast quantities. It is far from healthy and its sweetness is not for everybody, but it may make for an original souvenir to share with your friends.
Although not originally from Peru (but Paraguay), today stevia is cultivated in this country as well. You can find the white-powdered, processed version in supermarkets just like at home, so why not take the pure product with you instead? Vendors sell the dried leaves from large bags along the side of the road or in markets. Note that you need only the tiniest bit of the zero-calorie leaf to sweeten your drink or food.
In Peru they make flour from everything. While whole wheat isn’t that simple to find, you can easily score bags of other flours on markets: soya, habas (type of beans), plantain, kiwicha (amaranth), quinoa, 7 grains, kañihua, to name a few.
They may not be practical to transport in larger quantities without their crumbling, but these plantain chips may be a great snack to take with you when going home. As you are waiting for your plane, taxi or other mode of transport the crunchy, salty bite taste will keep your mind and thoughts lingering on the beautiful country of Peru before returning to the reality of home.