Peruvian Cuisine, Traditional Food

Bundles of Green Herbs Enliven Cuzco’s Food

Asnapa: Bundle of Herbs (Arnold Fernandez)

Cuzqueños love a good soup, wam, tasty and substantial, at ten in the morning. They fill themselves with their warmth and nourishment to be able to continue with their work day charged with fresh energy.

These classical, traditional soups are found for sale from very early in the morning in case you want one earlier. Especially taxi drivers and construction workers make their way to the stands for this burst of liquid warmth and energy. Given their demanding work, these workers take a break at ten for a substantial bowl of soup.

The majority of our city’s markets also have on hand well-prepared soups and broths from six am on, These vendors, caseras, leave home at 4:30 am to go to their stands and make up the soups.

To make these soups good, the caseras rely on bundles of green herbs we call asnapa. They add a few sprigs from this bundle of fresh herbs, let them steep into the broths tossing off lots of flavor.

A Hot Soup
A Hot Soup

Another common seasoning is celery. This ingredient they cook and blend to make it disappear into the soup and give it richness, just as they do with other ingredients. It makes the soup delicious and makes us want to have another bowl.

Another of the magical herbs that seem to perform all by themselves to give brilliance to Cuzco’s food is cilantro, what we call culantro. This green colored herb with fine leaves has an incomparable flavor. It is found in many of our dishes. One of them is our popular seco de pollo or cordero, that is a cilantro stew of chicken or of lamb. For this dish the herb is blended in order to give the dish that wonderful greenish color. The herb is also found in the classic arroz con pollo, chicken with rice, which in Peru is green. This is one of the most popular dishes for the set meals that form the lunch of most people in our city.

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