The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Peruvian Food
Peruvian food is diverse and influenced by a combination of indigenous ingredients, Spanish colonialism, African, Asian, and other immigrant cultures. The five countries with the most similar food to Peru are all located in South America. With the exception of Brazil, these nations all have Spanish as one of their official languages. In addition, the majority of the land in these countries has a tropical climate.
- Colombia is to the north of Peru. The Andes Mountains run through both countries. Potatoes and rice are the most commonly eaten starches in these countries, while chicken is the most popular meat. Ajiaco, a Colombian soup featuring potatoes and chicken, is similar to Peru’s Papa a la Huancaina. Furthermore, ceviche is popular in both countries, in part due to their extensive coastlines.
- Bolivia is located to the west of Peru. These countries share a long and intertwined history. Both have a strong Incan influence. Even today, many of their people natively speak Quechuan languages. The use of indigenous ingredients such as potatoes, corn, and quinoa is widespread in both cuisines. Anticuchos, grilled skewers of marinated meat that come with potato at the end of the skewer, are popular in Peru and Bolivia. Moreover, they both have traditional dishes like rocoto relleno and pachamanca.
- Ecuador is Peru’s neighbor to the north. Both countries are in the Andes and border the Pacific Ocean. Ceviche, a beloved dish in both nations, manifests in Ecuador with a slightly different twist. The use of plantains, yucca, and aji peppers creates a symphony of flavors reminiscent of Peruvian coastal cuisine. Additionally, both countries share a love for hearty soups.
- Venezuela is another former Spanish colony on this list. As a result, empanadas are popular in both countries, featuring pastry pockets filled with various ingredients such as meats, cheeses, or beans. While arepas are a staple in Venezuelan cuisine, they are also enjoyed in some regions of Peru. Both countries have their versions of arroz con pollo, a dish combining rice and chicken with various spices and seasonings.
- Brazil borders Peru to its east. The Amazon Rainforest runs through large swathes of both countries. Although Brazilian cuisine differs significantly from Peru’s due to its Portuguese and African influences, certain aspects overlap. Unique fruits, exotic fish, and find their way into Brazilian and Peruvian dishes. Moreover, they enjoy grilled meats, exemplified by Brazil’s churrasco and Peru’s anticuchos.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Peruvian Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Peru are located in Africa. With the exception of the Solomon Islands, they are all landlocked as well. However, relatively few countries have a diet that is extremely different from Peru’s.
- Chad is a former colony of France in Africa. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains in the country. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s harsh climate. Popular dishes include sesame soup and fried dough balls.
- South Sudan is another country that borders Sudan. Cassava is its staple food, however the country eats a lot of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. In addition, South Sudanese cuisine features a variety of sauces and condiments made with peanuts and sesame seed, unlike in Peruvian cuisine.
- Niger is a predominately Muslim country in Africa. It has an extremely hot and dry climate, so it is mostly desert. Its two most common staple foods are millet and sorghum. Some traditional dishes in Niger include tuwo, a porridge made from millet or sorghum, and dambunama, a dish made from millet, vegetables, and meat.
- Solomon Islands is the only nation not in Africa on this list. It is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s diet is much more reliant on sweet potato, yam, taro, and coconut than Peru. However, fish from the ocean are popular sources of meat in both countries.
- Central African Republic is yet another former French colony on this list. It is located to the south of Chad. Cassava, yam, and taro are three of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. Furthermore, potatoes and rice are rarely consumed in this country, in contrast to Peru.
Peru’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Saltwater Fish
Fruit: Banana, Pineapple
Vegetable: Onion, Pea
Starch: Potato, Rice
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.