One of my favorite places in Peru is the Andean town of Huancayo. It is the capital of the Junin province and has developed a robust tourist trade because of its hospitable people and its positioning as a debarkation point for exploring the Mantaro Valley.
I find an amazing array of traditional arts and crafts every time I visit the region. One of the greatest treasures I have found is a wonderful food offering that is considered a national dish in Peru. Papa a la Huancaina is a cold Peruvian potato salad. The dressing is a flavorful blend of fresh white cheese, vegetable oil, yellow pepper, and evaporated milk. It is traditionally served on a bed of lettuce and garnished with olives and hard boiled eggs.
It is such a great comfort food and I’ve never seen someone NOT like this dish, so it’s a great first attempt at Peruvian food. The recipe is prettily readily available though the catch is to get the “aji amarillo” or yellow hot pepper that is native to Peru. Without it, this dish just isn’t the same, so find a local “bodega” that sells Peruvian food – or contact Rojas International at 203-852-1295 and see if they will ship you out some in a paste form. It’s great and you’ll find all kinds of uses for it!