Breakfast in Peru is normally a simple affair. On a typical day, many Peruvian households awake to a quick meal of bread with butter, jam, cheese, ham, olives, or avocado. Oatmeal (avena) is also common, mixed with milk or water (you’ll hear oatmeal referred to as quaker—pronounced “quacker”—after the popular Quaker Oats brand).
Eggs, either scrambled or fried, and tamales are also eaten for breakfast, but rarely on a day-to-day basis.
Coffee is a common drink at breakfast time, served black or with a splash of evaporated milk. Most Peruvians like their coffee sweet, adding a teaspoon or two of sugar. Cacao is another potential addition, especially in cacao-producing regions. One alternative to coffee is an infusión, a cup of boiled water infused with tea, anise, or chamomile.
Note: The Spanish word for breakfast, desayuno, has the same meaning as its English counterpart: des-ayuno, or un-fast (break-fast).
On Sundays, many Peruvians sit down to a slightly later and heartier breakfast. These are sometimes smaller versions of meals more typically served for lunch in Peru.
Classic big breakfasts include chicharrón de chancho (fried pork served with sweet potato or fried yuca), lomo slatado, caldo de gallina (a hearty chicken soup), relleno (black pudding/blood sausage), humitas and tamales.
As you travel through Peru’s three geographic regions—the coast, the highlands and the jungle—you may notice changes in the style of breakfast. Breakfasts in the Andean highlands, for example, are often heavier. Farm workers and rural laborers eat substantial breakfasts in the early morning, such as soups containing mote (white corn kernels) and meat.
Coastal breakfasts may include fish, such as chicharrón de pescado or ceviche (a dish typically eaten at lunchtime). Fruits and plátano (plantain, served ripe or green, fried or boiled) are common additions to the breakfast table in the jungle regions of Peru. A thick banana drink called chapu is also consumed in the jungle, often in place of oatmeal.
Free Breakfasts in Hostels and Hotels
Many hostels and hotels in Peru offer a free continental breakfast. In budget hostels, you can often help yourself to bread, jam, and coffee from about 7 to 10 a.m. If you’re lucky, you might even find some eggs (but you’ll probably have to cook them yourself, if the hostel has a communal kitchen).
Breakfast options in three- and four-star hotels are normally—but not always—superior to the hostel variety. Some hotels lay out an impressive breakfast spread with all the basics (eggs, bread, jam, coffee) as well as tamales, humitas, and plenty of fruit. In general, the more you pay, the better the breakfast. Always check beforehand if you want breakfast included in the price of your room.