Archive for August, 2011

Origins, Mystery, and Corn

Corn for Sale, Cuzco, San Pedro Market

Corn for Sale, Cuzco, San Pedro Market

By David Knowlton

Soon corn will begin to sprout in Cuzco’s sacred Valley.  Its dual tendrils will push from the rich earth and grow skyward as row after row turns green.  In this annual emergence is magic and mystery.  And, not surprisingly corn is perhaps the most symbolically rich crop of Cuzco’s valleys.  Long before industrialized corn, this local corn made its way into most facets of life in Peru.  But, one of its greatest mysteries is how it came to be? Read the rest of this entry

Giving Food to the Earth

Meal for the Earth

Meal for the Earth

By Walter Coraza Morveli (translated by David Knowlton)

A kiss in the most sublime way of showing trust, respect and – above all – love.  And this is how the people of the Andes show the Pachamama their commitment, respect, and love they feel for her.    Many highland communities and those who live in the shadow of memory still practice the “much’ay” which is the kiss that is given to the earth to thank her for everything they have obtained.  This symbolic act is carried out during a special ceremony of thanks to the Pachamama, or when they visit a community other than their own.   Although this act is not practiced much in the city of Cuzco or in communities nearby, we can say it is one of the forms of showing respect to the Pachamama. Read the rest of this entry

Condorito’s, Skewers and Popularity

Beef Heart Skewer, Condorito

Beef Heart Skewer, Condorito

By Walter Coraza Morveli and Rodolfo Levita Merma (Translated by David Knowlton)

Distant from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and yet one of the most popular and recognized places in Cuzco is Anticuchería Condorito (Calle Pavitos s/n and Calle Diagonal Angamos). People come from throughout the city to eat anticuchos (skewers) of beef heart and choncholines (beef intestines) prepared on large Andean grills. It is key to the other Cuzco, not the tourist one. Read the rest of this entry

KFC and the Sacred in Cuzco

Combo Meal, KFC Cuzco

Combo Meal, KFC Cuzco

By David Knowlton

Peru is in love with chicken. Not only is it passionate about its own pollo a la brasa, but it is devoted to Colonel Sanders. And, to promote that devotion, KFC recently opened next to the Cathedral on Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas. Despite Cuzco’s national pride, there is no pollo a la brasa on the square, only a faux Kentucky Colonel with his original or crispy fried chicken. Read the rest of this entry

Cicciolina's Bakery

Cicciolina's Bakery

By David Knowlton

Just a little burst of intense flavor can shoot the day forward like jets suddenly firing. Especially when one is traveling, and the routine of coffee on the run, a quick bowl of oatmeal, or a sandwich from your favorite fast food outlet, doesn’t cut it. One wants something better than the norm, something which is to the norm like jets to bicycles. When one finds it, the day picks up and feels luxurious and filled with possibilities in a new place. Read the rest of this entry

Cheese and Place in Ttio Market

Cheese Vendor, Ttio Market

Cheese Vendor, Ttio Market

By David Knowlton and Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara

Like a wall of butter-yellow bricks, congealed light, cheese glows on the stand in the market. Serrated like a battlement, or perhaps just a partially constructed wall the bricks in different shapes, sizes, and textures separate the world of the woman in a blue sweater and pleated skirt inside from those of us outside. Read the rest of this entry

New Coffee Houses in Cuzco

Cappuccino, La Perla

Cappuccino, La Perla

By David Knowlton

Coffee houses have exploded around the world, with the model of good coffee and  a place to sit and stay for a while.  But in Cuzco such coffee houses are still a rarity.   Instead the city has cafes that sell coffee and pastries, but also attempt to include on their menu more substantial fare.   This is no different than coffee houses elsewhere.  What is distinctive is the lack of couches, the invitation to sit and stay a spell. Read the rest of this entry

Cuzco’s Traditional Food: Picanterías

Saturday Lunch in a Picanteria

Saturday Lunch in a Picanteria

By David Knowlton, Walter Coraza Morveli, and Hebert Huamani Jara

A simple table in a room pulsing with the uneven beat of huaynos and the moan of yaravies, indigenous song forms of Peru, tall glasses sit on a table as steaming plates are set down.  The room is filled with families and groups of friends conversing and eating, while the street outside has no more room for anyone else to park.  This is Saturday at the Picantería las Manuelitas (Urbanización Tawantinsuyo) in Cuzco. Read the rest of this entry

Trotamundos Doesn’t Need Selling

Old Candle Holder, Trotamundos

Old Candle Holder, Trotamundos

By David Knowlton

A seat on the balcony over Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas — its main square —  draws people.   Yet not many are available.  Under the colonnades around the plaza barkers offer them, along with free pisco-sours, to draw clients to their restaurants.  But some cafes and restaurants do not have barkers; they do not bother to sell themselves that way, even though they have great balcony seats.  One of those, a classic and long lasting one, is Trotamundos Cafe and it does not have to sell itself. Read the rest of this entry

Soup, Hail, and Thunder

Salcantay

Salcantay

Food and stories go together like soup and cold days.  Right now, the sun shines, though it does not heat with the same intensity as in the rainy season. The hills that surround Cuzco are brown and the earth is just waking from her winter slumber to take on her fertile cloak of green.

At night cold rules the city and the surrounding hills. As a result, nothing is better than a hot soup in the morning or evening to fortify one and prepare her or him to handle the cold.

Not only is it good to tell stories when it is cold and people are sitting around all bundled up. But within the stories the importance of soup to defeat the cold appears in Quechua folktales. Read the rest of this entry

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