Archive for February, 2011

Wari Lord’s Wealth Displayed in Cuzco

Lord of Wari, Foto Andina, Percy Hurtado

A major discovery, the tomb of a pre-Inca, Wari nobleman was announced in Cuzco this last Thursday, February 24. It’s magnificent funeral cache, compared with the splendor of the Lord of Sican, will be on display through March 10 at the Garcilaso Museum, at the intersection of Heladeros and Garcilaso streets.

Found downriver from Machu Picchu in the province of La Convención, near Vilcabamba, The tomb’s wealth consists of an impressive silver mask covering the deceased lord’s face, along with a chest covering of the same metal. The Lord also had golden bracelets and two staffs of wood covered in silver, as well as various other ornaments. Read the rest of this entry

Cuzco Restaurants Take to Facebook

Upstairs Window and Flag, Cuzco, Peru

Classic Upstairs Window and Flag, Cuzco, Peru

Facebook is not only notable for its role in recent uprisings, it is rapidly becoming a useful place to find out about Cuzco restaurants.

While more and more Peruvian youth find and carry out friendships on this social network, Peruvian restaurants, clubs, and bars are also finding reason to rely on Facebook for their business. Read the rest of this entry

Lomo Saltado: A Dish of Nation Building

Lomo Saltado, Early Peruvian fusion

Lomo Saltado, Early Peruvian Fusion

No matter where one goes, one dish seems to represent Peruvian food almost more than any other.  I am not talking about ceviche, though God knows I love ceviche.  Instead it is a cross-cultural marriage of a beef stir fry with indigenous, Peruvian potatoes called Lomo Saltado.

Translated literally, the name seems to mean “jumped loin” or loin made to jump about.  The image is much more poetic and precise than the English stir fry, since the chef does make the beef jump in a hot fry pan or wok. Read the rest of this entry

Quinoa Claims the World

Quinoa Almost Ready to Harvest

Not too long ago, quinoa was a humble seed eaten by rural people and the urban poor.  In Peru’s cities people would turn up their noses at its sight, given its lack of status, in their efforts to climb the social ladder.

Now quinoa is chic.  It comes dressed with recommendations from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow.  Major newspapers trumpet its arrival.  It graces the plates of elite restaurants.  Quinoa is taking the world, one mouthful at a time. Read the rest of this entry

A Spanish View of Inca Food

Sharing Chicha by Poma

The Inca presented many puzzles to the Spanish who invaded their land.  Inca ways were not the same as European ways.  And, the Europeans struggled to grasp them from the world of their own culture.

Bernabe Cobo wrote an important chronicle of the Inca in the seventeenth century, almost a century after they had disappeared.   A Jesuit, he spent years in Peru, both upper and lower, and made use of exiting documents.  As a result, his comments on Inca cuisine are both useful and intriguing.

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Fierce Peppers

Rocotos and Limes, a Heavenly match

Hot peppers have deep roots in Perú.  As early Peruvians were beginning to build pyramids in what is one of the worlds driest deserts, about the same time Egyptians were doing the same, Peruvians were already eating hot peppers.

The domesticated them some 6,000 yrs ago.  While most of the world relies on just one species of pepper, capsicum annum, for its hotness, Peru’s neighborhood markets and super stores contain four or five species. And, their most consumed peppers come from two species seldom seen in Europe or the United States.

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Traditional Food of Cuzco

Chicharron

Even though many places offer menus in English words often seem strange and have meanings they don’t to native speakers.

One of these is the word “typical”.  It appears in restaurant names and in the descriptions of their offerings.  It is so common.   And yet it does not have exactly the meaning it does for most English speakers. Read the rest of this entry

Peruvian Cuisine

Alpaca Skewers

Alpaca Skewers

From cuy to ceviche, Peruvian food embraces a world of diversity.  Its roots lie in the indigenous domestication of plants and animals in the Andes, as well as in importations from Africa, China and Europe. Its richness and complexity make it one of the great world cuisines, akin to that of China and France in subtlety and variety, at least if Raymond Sokolow is to be believed.

Like those, it is spreading around the world. In city after city, Peruvian restaurants are appearing and Peruvian cooking is obtaining notice. Read the rest of this entry

Amazing Restaurants

Ready for Dinner

You can sit in Yakumama’s balcony, enjoying a well chosen glass of wine to accompany  their beef loin and mushrooms while watching life unfold on the plaza where almost everyone goes at some time.  Or you can look at the top of the Cathedral to seek the Buddha supposedly hidden in its facade.

At night you can sit with a beer on the balcony of Norton Rats as the sparkling lights of Cuzco’s hillside neighborhoods merge with the sky.  It is as if you were in a bubble traveling among unknown galaxies, yet enjoy the comfort of a good brew and finger food. Read the rest of this entry