One of my absolute favorite things to do in Santiago de Chile is shopping at the main local market: La Vega Central. Over there, you can truly find anything you are likely to come across in the country. Fish, meat, general groceries, utilities and TONS and TONS of fresh produce. Literally.
Amongst hundreds of vendors, my favorite stalls tend to be the Peruvian ones – like the one in today’s photo. Not only they cater to the numerous Peruvian immigrants making Chile their home right now. They also provide the ingredients of what is, for me, the absolute highlight of food in South America: Peruvian cuisine!
Irregular looking potatoes come in more than one color (and taste like nowhere else in the world!), displayed alongside spicy chilies like rocoto and aji amarillo. Purple corn is sold for home brews of chicha morada, a singular soft drink made infusing the maize with pineapple, cinnamon and cloves. Limon de Pica is around all year long, and it is the lemon one must keep in mind when trying to squeeze a lot of juice to make ceviche.
Amongst the many flavors from the land in Peru, generic Asian ingredients are for sale too. The same way Peruvians enrich the food culture here in Chile, Chinese and Japanese made it to Peru too back in the day, bringing with them tastes of soy sauce, nori seaweed or egg noodles. That’s how popular cuisines such as Nikkei (fusion of Japanese and Peruvian) and Chifa (Peruvian inspired Cantonese cooking) became a hit here in South America.
Peruvian food stores need no filters or edits.
Everything is extremely fresh and looks almost as good as it tastes!