Food Culture, Traditional Food

Barbecue, Dance, and Beer Help the Needy in Cuzco’s Neighborhoods

Grilling Meat in its Juice Over Coals (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Grilled meat is one of the favorite foods of Cusqueños for a Sunday or any special day where the family comes together. They enjoy having a barbecue prepared under a radiant sun.

All the members of the family work to make the meal in a collective effort. People eat their meat along with boiled potatoes or huatia, baked potatoes. They always have on hand an uchucuta, a hot sauce, as well as a fresh salad.

Grilled meat is very popular in the city; besides eating it in their homes they organize neighborhood barbecues or open barbecues where people can come, enjoy some food, and dance. These are carried out as charity to pull together money to help someone who is ill or needy.

In every neighborhood you will find, at one time or another, this kind of events. Sometimes they focus on grilled meat, called a parrillada. Other times they emphasize grilled Chicken and are called polladas. People will also often trout. There always is music and people can dance.

If someone in the neighborhood has suffered an accident, the neighbors organize an event and send out invitations to their friends and family so they can colaborar, as they say. They can help by buying a ticket. Each ticket costs 10/S

These barbecue dances are carried out on Saturdays and Sundays. These days are chosen because most people are working on ordinary weekdays and would not be able to come. Furthermore, this provides them something fun to do.

When you go to one of the parrillada dances, you will see people drinking from early in the morning. Beer is never missing from these events. People who are in charge of organizing a barbecue buy various cases of beer so they can make even more money to help the needy person than simply from the food.

The events last until the beer is gone. As long as there is beer, people do not leave. When night falls they continue entertaining themselves, some people are drinking, telling stories of their life, and laughing, while others are dancing. They only think about that moment of happiness and in that way they forget all their travails for a bit.

These parrillada dances are one of the popular kinds of feasts created by the ingenuity of the people of our city. They only look to disfrutar, to have fun as the day passes. Ours is a chelero town, a beer-drinking and partying place. In feasts people come together.

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