Native to the Andes, Alpacas are camelids that are well known because of their fine wool that is used for making clothing, such as ponchos, sweaters, scarves, and fine cloth for all kinds of costly clothes. The Peruvian departments of Cuzco and Puno are those which have the largest quantity of alpacas on earth and it is precisely they which are dedicated to raising this charming and useful animal.
From ancient times we have not only used the wool of this animal, but also its flesh. In areas near the city of Cuzco people used to eat alpaca meat. It has more proteins and less fat than most other animals.
In Cuzco you can find products made from alpaca. One of these is alpaca jerky (called charqui here). It is different from jerky made from beef or other meats and gives a traditional touch to our historic foods such as thimpu or an ají of lisas, a native tuber. Now we even hear of the creole standard lomo saltado being made up with alpaca meat. It calls our attention as the meat of our great grandparents finds new uses and breaks the barriers there used to be to its consumption.
In the 2013 edition of the Mistura Fair in Lima anticuchos (skewers) made from alpaca flesh were presented to the public. You heard comments such as “it is one of the best meats I have ever tasted”.
Alpaca meat is best when it comes from a young animal of about a year or a year and a half old. It is much more tender than flesh from an older alpaca.
The tourist restaurants of our city center include alpaca in their offerings, just as they also do our traditional guinea pig (cuy) and our stuffed rocoto peppers (rocoto relleno. The dishes made from alpaca are among those that are most asked for by visitors from other countries.
In recent years the consumption of alpaca meat has risen considerably. It has become one of the animals to which our farmers are very dedicated. Its demand just keeps going up.
Where can you find alpaca meat in Cusco?
Since Cusco and Puno are the largest producers of alpaca, classified as red meat, the larger markets of Cuzco, such as Vino Canchón and San Pedro are well supplied with the meat for our consumer market.
Just as people now make lomo saltado from alpaca flesh, it is also important to recognize its nutritional value as well as its cultural value in Peru and for its population. We raise up all of our animal, vegetable, and mineral richness. Every day they are winning more palates throughout the world with their surprising qualities and taste.