Cuzco Neighborhoods, drinks, Traditional Food

Chicha, Joy, and Music as the Day Fades

Cusqueñan People Enjoying their Ancestral Drink (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)

Cusqueñan People Enjoying their Ancestral Drink (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)

The City of Cusco has numerous chicherías, places where chicha (homemade corn beer) and food are served. You can easily go and enjoy a large glass, a caporal, or chicha to slake your thirst. Each one is different. In some you will still find the traditional fogones, or mud stoves with open flames, where they prepare the chicha and the extras (dishes of food) for people. In other chicherías you no longer see these interesting traditional stoves made from mud and straw.

Having a Good Time in the Chichería (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)
Having a Good Time in the Chichería (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)

The majority of the city’s neighborhoods have chicherías. In some they only make up chicha on Sundays when friends gather to converse or maybe to play sports and enjoy this natural drink. In other neighborhoods chicha is made up every day of the week. This is most typical un the traditional neighborhoods such as San Blas, Nueva Alta, San Cristóbal and others.

A Couple of Friends Drinking Chicha in a Chicheria (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)
A Couple of Friends Drinking Chicha in a Chicheria (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)

The other day I visited a chichería located on Fierro Street. It was the first tie I had entered a chichería in that neighborhood. When I first went in, the first thing I looked for was the fogón but this place did not have one unfortunately. It was a big place with three rooms that were filled and as people arrived they settled themselves wherever they could find in order to enjoy the chicha and also the food that is never lacking.

A Group of Young People Visiting the Chicheria (Arnold Fernandez Coraza )
A Group of Young People Visiting the Chicheria (Arnold Fernandez Coraza )

I was impressed at seeing so many people who were visiting Cusco having a good time drinking their glasses of chicha. It seemed to me that the visitors were more numerous than the locals. Everyone was having a good time and seemed happy while conversing and listening to the background music from a radio. Suddenly, while everyone was concentrating on their conversations, a man came in with black glasses. He settled into the medium and the music from the radio suddenly stopped. The man picked up his guitar, strummed it and played with charisma and joy. He played a pair of songs and people applauded. From there he went around table to table asking for a contribution from those who listened and enjoyed.

A Traditional Musician Making Music in a Chichería (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)
A Traditional Musician Making Music in a Chichería (Arnold Fernandez Coraza)

The radio came on again with its music and some people left while others came in. That was when the chichera, the woman who owns and runs the establishment announced that there was no more chicha. You might think that when the chicha was finished people would leave, but no. They continued drinking beer now and happily enjoying the moment because for them that is eternal.

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