Archive for July, 2011

Inca, a Statue and a Struggle


Controversial Statue of Inca, Cuzco

Controversial Statue of Inca, Cuzco

By David Knowlton

The Incas not only are an important part of Cuzco’s history, they are a basis of its economy and their memory can explode in controversy, even today.

Such is the case of the golden statue of a fiberglass Inca pointing outwards that Cuzco’s mayor Luís Flores García recently had placed on top of Cuzco’s classic, republican-style, fountain in its main square, replete with representations of swans. This act of officially honoring the Incas led to a conflict with the national Ministry of Culture and its minister, the prominent anthropologist Juan Ossio and with many people in Cuzco. Read the rest of this entry

On Peru’s Independence Day

Peruvian Flag and Cusco Flag with Fruit

Peruvian Flag and Cusco Flag with Fruit

By Walter Coraza Morveli and Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara

Peru gained its independence on the 28th of July 1821, and every year we celebrate our country. There are various ways in which we celebrate this important event and its meaning for our lives. Read the rest of this entry

Alpaca, a Story

Alpaca Loin with Gravy

Alpaca Loin with Gravy

By David Knowlton

Dark and juicy like beef, alpaca meat graces many plates in tourist restaurants in Cuzco and very few dishes in homes. A delicious meat, relatively low in fat and high in protein, alpaca has become a standard of the novo-Andean cuisine and yet it is not part of the ordinary repertoire of food in the city of Cuzco. In this is a story. Read the rest of this entry

Cheers, Pisco and Peru

Maracuya Sours Made with Pisco

Maracuya Sours Made with Pisco

By David Knowlton

This week Peru celebrates its anniversary in an outpouring of national pride.  While patriotism is part of the air people breathe as they grow up in a country that every Sunday celebrates the “Raising of the Flag” in plazas around the county, it is also increasingly a matter of marketing.

Peru settled earlier this year on a national trademark and is increasingly seeing its cuisine as a kind of culture to be actively promoted, both nationally and internationally.   One of its key elements for promotion is pisco, Peru’s signature beverage, distilled from fermented grapes. Read the rest of this entry

Sun and City

Sun and Shadow 1

Sun and Shadow 1

By David Knowlton

Even though half a millennium has passed since the Incas worshipped the sun, it still rules Cuzco’s patios and streets. It is not an abstract and distant deity, but moves its rays through the street, an active presence daily claiming its own. Not only is its light a charismatic personage dancing through the city with lasar-like precision and clarity, it is heat, a moving line of warmth strongly separate from the cold of shadows. Read the rest of this entry

Cafe Ayllu: Grace, Tradition, and Good Coffee

Coffee and Pastry

Coffee and Pastry

By David Knowlton

What is a good coffee? While for some the question might hinge solely on the brew itself as if brewing were simply a product of nature, for others the goodness of the drink is tied to place, to a coffee house or cafe and the people who go there. Read the rest of this entry

Life, Death, and Stuffed Hot Peppers

Rocotos Rellenos on the Street in Cuzco

Rocotos Rellenos on the Street in Cuzco

By David Knowlton

Fat and sassy, rocotos rellenos (stuffed hot peppers) peer out from their wrappings on many street corners in Cuzco, such as where Maruri and Arequipa join a block from the main square, like so many babies properly bundled to go out in public.

Though people claim the rocoto relleno is from Arequipa, Cuzco’s are different enough and have deep enough roots to require separate discussion and distinction, and perhaps have a separate origin. Read the rest of this entry

Anticuchos, Maruri Street

Anticuchos, Maruri Street

By David Knowlton

As dusk falls, Maruri street fills with the smells of grilling meat just as traffic is at its densest. Portable grills appear on the sidewalk, a block from the Plaza de Armas, and are covered with skewers of sizzling meat, while knots of passersby stop, blocking traffic, to eat piece by piece the meat from the sticks. Read the rest of this entry

Guinea Pig, Pet or Festive Meal

Guinea Pigs Huacaro Fair

Guinea Pigs Huacaro Fair

By David Knowlton

“Did you know that in other countries they don’t eat guinea pig”  said the one young man to the other while seated on benches in the Plaza de San Blas.

“What?  You’re kidding, right?”

“They don’t eat guinea pig, like we do.  For them the guinea pig is a pet and the idea of eating them disturbs them just like for us eating dog would be weird.”

“But guinea pig is sooo good.” Read the rest of this entry

Swashbuckling toward Machu Picchu and Peru

Machu PIcchu, Courtesy Fidelus Coraza M.

Machu PIcchu, Courtesy Fidelus Coraza M.

What do Nescafe, Cross Keys Pub, and explorer Hiram Bingham (often credited with “discovering” Machu Picchu) have in common?

Besides sounding like the lead-in to an old joke, they are all bit-players in Mark Adams’ intriguing book Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (Dutton, 2011) published just before the centennial of the site that draws millions. Read the rest of this entry

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