Today Cuzco’s streets and markets fill with delicious “piqueos”, snacks. They are appetizers that delight before supper, such as skewers (anticuchos), salchipapas (sliced hot dogs with french fries), deep fried yuca (yuca rebosada), the famous quail eggs, and the newest item in town, the chicharrón of chicken neck.
These appetizers are prepared at the moment a client asks for them. The vendors (usually women) leave their homes prepared. Within their portable carts they have a canister of gas to fire their stove and all the other instruments and ingredients they need to cook in the street for sale.
The popular boom of afternoon delights cooked on the street is crowned by the chicharrón of chicken necks that is taking over street after street.
Chicharrón is a deep fried cut of meet, sometimes breaded and sometimes not. The most well known and the one that is simply called chicharrón without having to define the cut of meat is not battered. It is simply seasoned pork fried crisp in its own fat.
Our chicken neck chicharrón is served with golden potatoes, a few grains of mote (boiled corn) and the ever present onion and mint salad.
The small dish is served, as you can see, with the same accompaniments as the classic pork chicharrón. Only the pork is missing. It is replaced with inexpensive chicken necks, making this plate much more economical than the classic.
When vendors are frying chicken neck chicharrón you sense the smell a block before you arrive. It has time to tempt you with the odor of fresh food frying crisp. By the time you get to the place where it is cooking your mouth is watering with the desire for some.
Vendors begin preparing and selling this dish around 3 in the afternoon, just like almost all the other snacks except salchipapas (Its vendors start selling at 5 pm).
By 6 pm the chicharrón vendors need more hands to meet the demand. They are surrounded by hungry folks who want their crispy chicken, potatoes, and mint. Among the crowd it is common to find school kids. As soon as they leave school they rush to the carts to buy their delight, fresh fried chicken neck chicharrón. By 7 or 8 at night it is all over and the vendor goes home.
This famous dish is very economical. A plate costs 2/S (about 0.70$US). With such prices you can always afford the pleasure of this appetizer before dinner.