Food Culture

Boiled Eggs and Ocopa in the Street

Boiled Eggs to Go

Cuzco is a city of street food.   From basic to elaborate, once can find many things to no whet your appetite while walking its streets.  One of these, simple and yet a delight, is boiled eggs.  They are found all over the city, day and night.   This dish makes its way as a daily food in the lives of many Cuzqueños, while at night is is also found all over the city.

Usually, it is eaten mid morning as something to keep your energies going between breakfast and lunch.  But it can be enjoyed at any moment during the day.   And at night, with even more reason, it is found near the clubs and bars where Cuzqueños go to have fun.

Part of the joy of this dish is not only the hard boiled egg, but the delicious ocopa sauce that accompanies it.  This sauce is made with salt crackers, peanuts, milk and yellow aji, as well as a touch of huacatay.  It can be spicy or not depending on the taste of the consumer.

This plate wins its place in Cuzco’s diet because not only is it nourishing, it is cheap and always available.   There are many stands which sell it in the different neighborhoods of Cuzco, in the markets, by schools, universities and in parks and plazas.

This dish is completely Andean, as Andean as mote (boiled, dried kernels of corn).  Like the former it is served to slake hunger and keep energy flowing during the agricultural work day.  And it is something that women in the countryside give to their children.

The majority of the vendors without permanent stands, who walk the streets selling eggs, live on the edges of the city, in its poorer neighborhoods, and often come from the countryside.

Often they make the dish with their own family’s products.  They also dress in the clothes that announce their origins: their white aprons, hats, skirts, and shawls, as well as a bundle in a colorful carrying cloth.   Often the bundle is a child while they carry their products to sell in baskets.

As we noted, this is a very economical dish.  It used to be just  50 cents of the sol, but then rose to one sol and now is at one fifty soles, about sixty cents of the dollar.  But the taste of a hard boiled egg with fresh ocopa is amazing and keeps people returning for more.

Eating Eggs on the Street
Eating Eggs on the Street
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