These days a nation of bread babies and bread horses poured into Cuzco. They are everywhere. Cuzco’s children see them as magical and hope to have them given to them. Fortunately Cuzco holds festivals of pan wawa, or bread babies these days.
The festivals where the population of bread babies abounds are held from November 1st through the 4th. This special bread for which the children of Cuzco are passionate is carried out in all the different districts, plazas, markets, stores, and streets of the city of Cuzco. It is as if magic happened and children of bread with their horses suddenly appear and stay for just a few days.
Bread horses are made for little boys. They play with them and even try to ride them. There are different sizes but, as you might imagine, the largest ones are the most desired. Sizes vary from twenty centimeters to the largest which reach more than a meter in size.
This bread takes the form of a horse. It carries on it a small image of a horse’s face and has fillings of candied fruit, like the raisins and others added to the panetón, the Christmas sweet bread loved in Cuzco.
On the other hand, the bread baby is for girls. It takes the form of a baby wrapped in a traditional bundle. On it the put the face of a woman. The girls play with the bread babies and carry them in lliqllas as if they were their real children.
Parents give these figures of bread to their children as gifts. The children are those who more than anyone else enjoy this bread. Parents give the bread as gifts tot heir children. The breads are like treasured toys and the children almost never want to eat them. They hope to keep them intact as long as possible so they can play with them and they do not lose their magic.
On the other hand people buy them to enjoy eating them with their families. Their sweet flavor is delicious when eaten at breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate.
During this time when the dead are celebrated, Cuzqueños also celebrate their children. They feed the dead, drink with them, and play them music, but they also celebrate their children and give them sweet, raised bread in symbolically meaningful forms to provide them roles for the lives they will lead. In either case, the parents have entered into ayni, reciprocal relationships of gift giving both with the dead and the young as a means of sustaining life.
Prices for these figures of bread vary according to size. The smallest begin at 3/S, around $1.35 US while the larger ones cost around 30/S to 50/S, from $14 US to almost $20 US.
Bakers and ovens have lots of work these days to make the bread and satisfy the demand from the city of Cuzco’s almost 500,000 strong population.
In order to carry out the festivals of bread babies, Cuzco’s governments designate broad places that receive lots of traffic. There they place tents to make a circle. One example of this is in the Plaza of San Francisco. Every year the festival of bread babies is held there. The bakers and ovens invited to sell bread horses and babies set up in these small places, under tents, with a couple of tables covered in white cloths. On them they show their supply of bread, babies and horses.
During this festival of bread babies other sweets and cookies are also shown and sold. These include condesas, suspiros (sighs) made from egg whites and sugar, maicillos, biscochuelos, yemas, empanadas. These are mostly made from wheat or corn. They are very inexpensive.
The people working the booths are only females, whether little girls, young women, or older, married ladies. They always wear white and have on an apron and a cap.
As we know, Cuzco has a variety of special bread connected with different occasions and important dates. Bread babies are for celebrating and eating during the days of the living and of the dead.During the unusually long weekend when the holiday is celebrated, the sale of this much desired and delicious bread of Cuzco will continue.