Saturdays, from when the sun rises and begins to shine its rays into our city bringing warmth, after a frozen dawn, our caseros and caseras (vendors) go out to prepare their stores and stands in the markets while everyone else is still sleeping.
At nine in the morning, after having breakfast, the housewives get their bags ready to go to the market. They write down the family’s needs: all that has run out and the ingredients for dishes the plan to make soon. They judge how much they have to buy in order to decide if they should just go to the nearest market or to one of the main ones if they need a lot, such as the San Pedro, the Cascaparo, or the Vinocanchón.
Fruit is something that must always be found in Cuzco’s homes. Bananas, oranges, apples, tangerines, pineapple, and papaya are the fruit that people most consume. The housewives always buy these in order to send them in the lunch box of their school-aged children, as refreshment for their moment of recreation, or just to have in the home. They also innovate with them a bunch of delicious offerings, such as fruit salads or delicious juices. One variation is called jugo de plátano, a kind of banana shake.
Banana shakes (called juices—jugos—in Cuzco) are much loved. People make them because of the wonderful flavor that the fruit has. Some people make them with milk to add just that little touch of richness the milk gives. This shake can be found in our markets as well as in the majority of restaurants and cafes of the city’s monumental core.
From bananas, especially the variety called plantains, people make salty chips we call chifles. People make these when the frying bananas (plantains) are either ripe or just ripening.
There are many different kinds of banana. For example, you can find the plátanos de la selva—the jungle bananas. They are small and have a slightly different flavor than the normal one. Another is the frying banana, the plantain, which forms part of the exquisite dish we call arroz a la cubana—Cuban rice, a simple concoction of rice, fried eggs, and fried bananas.
You can eat bananas boiled, baked, fried, and raw. You will see more and more people dedicated to selling baked bananas on the street corners of our city.