“Lonche” or “Lonchecito” as Peruvians commonly call it, is a special and timeless tradition of the Peruvian culinary culture. “Lonche” is actually a tradition that comes from the colonial era that Peru lived, it is very similar to the English Teatime or the Spanish “merienda”. It is a sort of tea-time or coffee break usually planned for the late afternoon between the lunch and the dinner, let’s say around 5:30 – 6:00 PM; it usually carries on as the conversation grows. It is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and family.
Peruvians use to have their “lonche” with all the family members at home during the week or in a cozy bar during the week-end with friends or, for the most traditionalist people, by themselves as well. Many restaurants, hotels and bars, especially in Lima, offer promotions for the tea time, sometimes they also offer special prices for large groups. So the options for having “lonche” out are many.
But what are the basics for the perfect Peruvian “lonche”? What do Peruvians usually have for their teatime? What do they love? Basically, Peruvians love to eat sandwiches or other savory snacks, but also sweet snacks and little desserts for their tea time. On the “lonche” table you should never miss little sandwiches, bread rolls, brioche-like bread, butter, cheese, ham, avocado, olives, jams, little “empanadas”, sliced cake, among others. During “lonche” Peruvians love to drink black coffee, tea, chocolate or a traditional “mate de coca”.
So if you want to plan a classic Peruvian “lonche” at home, do not forget to add to your grocery shopping list the following items:
- Bread (different kind of bread, salty and sweet. You can easily find it at the grocery store)
- Cheese (Paria cheese could be an option or also fresh cheese)
- Butter (this is a must-have for Peruvians, they love to put it on the bread and during Christmas time on the “panettone”)
- Olives (black if possible)
- Jams (for those who prefer to eat something sweet)
- A cake (it could be an apple pie, a traditional Pio Nono filled with “dulce de leche”, little “alfajores” or a home-made cake such as chocolate cake, banana bread, etc.)
- Tea and fruit tea or Mate de Coca
- Milk for people who love to add it to the black coffee
- Fresh fruit as an healthier “lonche” option.
You can also prepare little sandwiches for your guests, if you are planning a more formal “lonche”. Peruvians favourites are “Triples” with avocado, tomatoes and mayo, or with olives, ham and mayo, that you can prepare with sliced bread or chicken sandwiches, little bread rolls filled with chopped chicken and mayo.
“Lonche” is a fun and lovely Peruvian tradition, whose aim is to enjoy good company and catch up with your family and new and old friends.