Food Culture Archives

Holy Week Sweets Have Sacred Meaning

Empanadas and Maicillos (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Empanadas and Maicillos (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

By David Knowlton

Cuzco returns to normal today, after a week of celebration. The morning begins with celebratory mass, for those who wish to attend, in honor of Christ’s resurrection, while in the Plaza de Armas, at the edge of the Cathedral the regular Sunday parade is schedule to take place.

In this way, mass in the Cathedral and civic parade on its edge, the twin poles of a Spanish society are re-established after a week in which the society and religion seem the same. Durkheim’s sacred and profane are distinguished again, even if in a seeming bout of Inca revenge both have their own sacred and secular halves within them. Read the rest of this entry

Chicken, Song, Food, and Fun

By Walter Coraza Morveli

Chicken and French Fries (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Chicken and French Fries (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

“Chicken and french fries. Chicken and french fries. Chicken and french fries.” The caserita, vendor, shouts out as I approach. “Caserita, how about you serve me up a thigh here, and another over here. And, if you wish, give me lots of french fries. Make sure it all has that taste we love.”

Pollo a la brasa, rotisserie chicken, is famous all over Peru. You will find it here or there, wherever you go. There will always be a chicken shop tempting you. Besides being common on our streets it is Peru’s favorite food. Read the rest of this entry

Carnival Ends Today with the Cacharpaya

Carnival in Cusco (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Carnival in Cusco (Walter Coraza Morveli)

By Brayan Coraza Morveli

For Carnival in Cuzco there are two principal days in which we celebrate massively.  The first day, which is called Carnival, is when the feast begins.  For days before, such as the two Thursdays of Comadres and Compadres people begin the play of Carnival with women trying to wet the men and vice a versa the men toss water at the women. Read the rest of this entry

The Yunza Tree Thrills Cuzco for Carnival

By Brayan Coraza Morveli

Cutting down the Yunza Tree (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Cutting down the Yunza Tree (Photo: Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

The yunza, or brush cutting (corta monte) as it is also called, is a tree that has great meaning in our culture.  This tree can be a cypress, a eucalyptus, or a capulí.  Of course it can also be another kind of tree, depending on whether it can be obtained for the fiesta.

The celebration is the responsability of someone we call the mayor domo.  He and his spouse are in charge of obtaining the yunza tree, with all the gifts and decorations that are tied on it.  The couple also takes charge of making food for everyone.  In this case the food is our thimpu or puchero, a special carnival stew of a diversity of ingredients all cooked in water.  It is the traditional food of carnival. Read the rest of this entry

Carnival Funa

Carnival is Here

By Arnold Fernandez Coraza

Carnival is here. Today is the Sunday of Carnival and Latin America, including Cuzco, breaks into joyful celebrations. The season begins in February with the Day of St. Valentine, the day of friendship and lovers as we call it. Around the twentieth people began celebrating Carnival and it will end around mid March. Despite the Catholic Calendar which is supposed to govern all this with the beginning of lent on Wednesday this week, the days are approximate. Carnival always exceeds its boundaries. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Comadres Day: Fun, Farce, and Honor

By Walter Coraza Morveli

A Doll Decked out Fro Comadres Day (Walter Coraza Morveli)

A Doll Decked out For Comadres Day (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Happy day to all the comadres. We will drink a pair of beers for our days. Of course we are life long comadres. It just once a year that we can enjoy this day. Some day death will over take us and we will only have these moments as memories.

The relationship among comadres (co-godmothers) is very important in Cuzco’s society. The roll is manifested in our tradition, our culture and our folklore.

The comadre is the godmother, someone who was chosen to sponsor a child in baptism, first hair cut, and other rites of passage. She has the same functions as the compadre (the co-godfather); she is just the female half of the pair of godparents. Normally you can expect the godfather and godmother to be a couple and asking them to sponsor your child is a confirmation of a friendship and respect. People only undertake it with commitment and responsibility. Because of these ties, both families adopt a relationship of kinship with each other, because the couples are comadres and compadres. Read the rest of this entry

The City where Beer Makes Life Flow

By Arnold Fernandez Coraza

¡Cheers ! (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

¡Cheers ! (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

As the annual cycle of fiestas rolls through Cuzco, like troupes of dancers through the plaza, Cuzqueños take much pride. They celebrate them with vigor and joy. The people of the city and region are always up to date on the feasts and their happenings since they are important to them and to the city. While they celebrate them, they also live them.

Different typical foods accompany these celebrations; each feast has its own special dish. Nevertheless, in all of them you find the same drink, beer. Though not indigenous, this beverage has become typical in Cuzco. It is always present not just in the big fiestas but also in all kinds of events, including birthdays, which we celebrate. Read the rest of this entry

Smiles Make Cuzco Bright

By Fidelus Coraza Morveli

A lovely smile of a little girls from Cuzco

A lovely smile of a little girl from Cuzco

There are few expressions in the world as powerful as a smile. Who could imagine something so simple, that has no cost, that could serve to give people hope, make the other person feel better automatically, generate a more pleasing environment, and a warm feeling.

A smile is a gesture that blooms from our inside. It reflects our feelings. A smile doesn’t cost anything but produces much. It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those who give. It only takes a moment, maybe just seconds, yet it can stay forever in the memory of those who receive. Read the rest of this entry

Salads Always Appear with Our Main Courses

Fresh Salad

Fresh Salad in Cuzco

By Arnold Fernandez Coraza

In Cuzco, our daily menu consists of a three-course meal: the special soup of the house, various main dishes for you to choose from, called segundos (such as an arroz con pollo, a rice with chicken), as well as a salad made from a variety of ingredients.

The most popular salad, one that you always find on menus, is the salad of washed onion, tomato, and lime. It is simply one of the most prepared salads in Cuzco for accompanying any segundo, main dish. Read the rest of this entry

Compadre in San Pedro Market

Compadre in San Pedro Market

By Brayan Coraza Morveli

Carnival, the pre-Lenten festivity akin to Mardi Gras, is celebrated all over the world. In each place, people celebrate it according to what their culture provides. They dance, make music, parade, eat special food, and drink.

We also celebrate carnival. But, before the feast begins we have an important prelude. For two weeks the feast of compadres followed by comadres dominate our city. This tradition is carried out every year without fail.

The words comadre and compadre refuse to find an easy translation in a single English word. In one way, they refer to the relationships of all adults with other grownups outside the family, since everyone in Cuzco is a compadre or comadre to someone. Read the rest of this entry

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