Global Cuisines and Culture: Peru 2 Cusco
After spending a few days in Lima, it was time for a change in scenery. A short one-hour flight later, we had gone from sea level to roughly 11,000 feet. It was my first time in an area of higher elevation, and I noticed that things seemed a little calmer than in the busy city of Lima. As we climbed onto the bus at the airport and met our new tour guide, Jeremy, we sipped coca tea and took in the beautiful landscape.
Although a few of us were feeling sick—either from the altitude, lack of sleep, or too much food—we instantly cheered up on our way to the hotel, as we were stopping at a Camelid farm. This farm was filled with cute and fuzzy llamas and alpacas, and we took the time to feed them grass and hay that was offered to us. We also couldn’t resist taking plenty of pictures with them. Jeremy explained the importance of alpaca fur in the making of clothes and various textiles, and we saw this in action through the women that were making beautiful items with their hands right in front of us.
The alpacas and llamas at the farm were not only cute and fun to feed, but we learned they play an important role in the culture of the Peruvian people
After checking into our amazing hotel and resting for a bit, we headed to an early dinner at the local chicheria. Simply put, a chicheria is a bar; but instead of beer, the corn drink “chicha” is made. This beverage consists of corn and water that has been processed, strained, and left to ferment over time. After a couple of weeks, the drink is ready. We drank an original chicha as well as chicha morada, which is made with purple corn and is sweetened with aromatic spices such as cinnamon or clove. As part of our traditional dinner, we indulged in roasted cuy, which is guinea pig! It was actually quite tender, although somewhat difficult and messy to eat. This was served with choclo—the large-kernelled corn of the Andes—as well as potatoes and uchucuta, which is a delicious green herb sauce that I put on absolutely everything during my stay in Peru.
Guy is guinea pig, traditionally roasted and served with chocolo, lima beans, and potatoes
We concluded the night by playing a game of sapo. This was a Peruvian version of a coin toss mixed with a bean bag toss. The goal was to flick 12 coins towards a stand that contained various slots that counted for a different number of points. Alternatively, if you got three coins in the big bronze frog’s mouth in the middle of the board, then your team wins. Needless to say, this game was addicting, and a fun way to end the night.
by Dan Salisbury