The diversity of food in our country is one of Peru’s many marvels. Our indigenous cereals are being recognized right now internationally and nationally for their delicious flavor and their health benefits. The most known of these are quinoa, cañihua, and kiwicha. The first two are cheopodium species while the last is an amaranth. These seeds were part of the Inca and pre-Inca diet and now are eaten all over the world.
In Cusco we consume a lot of quinoa because it is delicious and is just part of our daily life. We find it all the time in different preparations. People love this cereal in the mornings for breakfast and in the afternoons for lunch or dinner. From early hours in the morning men, women, and children are dedicated to selling quinoa cooked with apple for breakfast. You will see these vendors every day with crowds around them enjoying this nutritious and hearty breakfast throughout our city.
We also love a delicious quinoa soup or may a main dish with quinoa in it, especially when we want something very nourishing for our family. Most families prepare quinoa during the week, however we do not find as many restaurants that do so, although the Neo-Andean restaurants love to make a quinoa risotto called kinotto. Otherwise just a few restaurants cook up this grain as part of their daily routine.
Both cañihua, the smaller grained relative of the quinoa, and kiwicha, the amaranth, are common for breakfast. You just boil up a cup of water and add some cañihua to be satisfied with a good breakfast and to have sufficient energy to make it through the day and perform all your activities. You do not need to have any bread along with it.
The latest fashion in our city, now, is the promotion in our different markets and stores of the now famous kiwicha. It is made up, just like our toasted corn; it is popped. This new product that has only been found for sale for a short time, was created with the purpose of getting people to eat more of this nutritious, traditional Andean grain.