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Iquitos Food

Eating in the jungle

Juane is cooked in bijao leaves

Traditional foods like juane (above) and patarashca are cooked in bijao leaves. Bijao is the leaves of the heliconia, which is the family of tropical plants that includes bird of paradise.

Bijao leaves for sale in Iquitos

Juane is rice and meat wrapped in bijao leaves and boiled or steamed. (below)

Juane unwrapped and served

Patarashca is fish wrapped in bijao leaves and grilled. (below)

Fish grilled in bijao leaves is patarashca


The most ubiquitous food you’ll see in Iquitos is aguaje. This is a fruit that grows on the aguaje palm. It’s not very sweet and not even good to eat raw, but it’s used in large quantities for aguaje juice, ice cream & popsicles. By some estimates, Iquitos consumes several tons per day, up to a pound per person, per day. The most popular local brand of ice cream & popsicles is Shambo.

Aguaje juice and pulp sold in Iquitos

Aguaje fruit grow on the aguaje palm

Aguaje palms grow in swamps

The aguaje palms only grow in swamps and areas where their roots can be submerged all year.

Restaurants & Food


The jungle city

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper