Eating gluten-free in Peru. Is that even an option? Although it can be a bit of a challenge, yes, it is possible, eating gluten-free in Peru!
Allergy to gluten or Celiac Disease should by no means stop any one from traveling to Peru. Traveling with this kind of dietary restriction can be tricky, especially in countries such as Peru, where a gluten allergy is not well-known. However, it’s possible. So if you have plan to travel to Peru for a Spanish course in Cusco, you should go for it. Yes, it’s a bit a challenges so therefore, we have prepared this short article with tips and tricks to live and learn Spanish in Cusco when you’re on a gluten-free diet.
Most websites and doctors will suggest bringing a “cheat sheet” when eating out in restaurants so that the waiter can read exactly what you can and cannot eat. However, the problem is that most people in Peru are not always familiar with “gluten” and “celiac”. Furthermore, when you say the word “allergy”, people in your home country would probably take that very seriously, whereas here in Peru, many people do not have a lot of experience with it yet and do not always now this can be a big deal.
Therefore, when eating out in Peru, it´s very important to use “basic language”. For example, instead of asking if there is gluten, you better ask if a certain dish contains bread, or if it is cooked in an area with bread. Somtimes when I was learning Spanish in Cusco, I learnt it also helps to exaggerate the situation abit. how? By saying things as: “I will have to go to the hospital if I eat bread” or even “I will die if I eat bread!” That usually seems to get the point across!
In general, there are many Peruvian plates that are gluten-free. The trick is figuring out which plates are safe and which plates are dangerous. Peruvian plates that are generally safe are ceviche (traditional fish dish marinated in lime juice, garlic, and chili), Pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken usually served with potatoes and rice), Papa a la huancaína (potato and cheese dish), Rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), and Risotto de Quinoa (Quinoa Risotto).
Dishes to avoid are Lomo Saltado, Anticuchos, Chicharrón, Papa rellena, Causa rellena, Aji de gallina, and Chaufa. All of these plates are either breaded or contain soy sauce. Surprisingly, many dishes in Peru are made with soy sauce, so it is important to ask if a dish has “salsa de soya”.
* you can learn more about Peruvian kitchen and it’s history here.
There are many restaurants in Peru that are good for a gluten-free lifestyle. Particularly in Cusco, Nuna Raymi and Greens Organic are two restaurants right off the Plaza de Armas that offer meals without gluten. A more economical, yet just as delicious, option is Green Point, a vegan restaurant in San Blas that actually has the label “GF” on their menu!
Another café called La Rabona offers many gluten-free products. They have bread, brownies, chips, and cookies that are all gluten-free! It is right in the city center of Cusco and also offers non-gluten-free options for those who don´t have dietary restrictions.
For the most part, living gluten-free in Peru (while learning Spanish or traveling around), in Cusco, is perfectly possible, but it just takes time to figure out where and what to eat. Although not as obvious as in other countries, there are definitely options for people that live a gluten-free lifestyle.
If you register for one of our Spanish courses in Peru, please let us know when completing the enrollment form
that you are on a gluten-free diet.