As I attempt to walk you through a 13 course meal at Central- rated as the best restaurant in South America and the forth best restaurant in the world- I must set a disclaimer of the injustice I am doing to the dishes by only visually showing one dimension of what the chef served. The tastes, smell, textures, and surprising presentation of the food is something that one must experience in person.
When I booked a reservation for Central months in advance, I only secured a spot at the bar, which does not serve the tasting menu. After writing Central several times asking about a cancelation, I received several emails telling me that they could not accommodate my request. Defeated, I decided to cancel my reservation at the bar the night prior. Instead, my friend and I headed to Barranco, the up-and-coming “hipster” neighborhood of Lima, for one last meal of ceviche and chicharrones. Literally, moments after finishing our shared platter, I checked my email and saw in my inbox, an invitation for 2 to dine at Central in 15 minutes. We looked at each other, hastily paid our bill, and hopped into a taxi to head to Miraflores. Arriving promptly at the time of our new reservation, we could not believe the surreal world we entered. Underdressed, disheveled, and not particularly hungry, Central courteously seated us anyways and thus began the best restaurant experience of my life.
Dining at Central is a journey through the diverse altitudes and ecosystems of Peru. Living in Trujillo, I gathered an appreciation for Peruvian food from the jungle, desert, highlands, and coast. Though Central draws from these same environments, the food was nothing like I had ever tasted before. I have eaten potatoes nearly every day in Peru, but tasting the dozens of potato varietals at Central challenged my notion of how a Peruvian potato could look and taste. My compliments to the chef, the kitchen staff, and especially the wait staff. I could not think of a more perfect way to finish off my 15 weeks of traveling and studying the gastronomy of Peru than by eating a meal at Central.
Thus began the journey:
Dish 1: “Spiders on a Rock” _ sargassum, limpet, crab_ - 5 meters
Dish 2: “Desert Plants”_ huarango, lucuma, root_ 160 meters
Dish 3: “High Sierra Lake” _ mashua, duck, zapallo squash_ 3500 meters
Dish 4: “High Jungle” _ yucon, baston, bark _ 860 meters
Dish 5: “River Scales” _ river snails, gamitana, sangre de arbol _ 180 meters
"Intermission" _ bread roasted on coca leaves and maize bread paired with smoked butter and sauce made of tomatoes, aji and cheese_
Dish 6: “Andean Plateau” _ tunta, annato, coca _ 3900 meters
Dish 7: “Marine Soil” _ clams, pepino melon, sweet lemon _ -20 meters
Dish 8: “Extreme Stem” _ oca, olluco, elderberry _ 2875 meters
Dish 9: “Close Fishing” _ octopus, coral, barquillo_ -10 meters
Dish 10: “Low Andeas Mountains” _ quinoas, beef, airampo _ 1800 meters
Dish 11: “Green Highlands” _ cushuro, cacao, chaco clay_ 1050 meters
Dish 12: “Valley Between the Andes” _ roots, chirimoya, sacha inchi _ 2190 meters
Dish 13: “Solar Mucilage” _ O.I. water, lemon verbena, theobromas_ 200 meters