Cuzco Eats is pleased to present a poem by poet Shawn Dallas Stradley about Peruvian food. Not only is Stradley a poet who brings a rich poetic language and background to the task, he aids us in meeting one of our goals: opening the blog to other voices and other writers. Thank you Shawn.
I begin at the root, the potato.
Salt enlivens even this bland starch,
the brown russet a limitation
cultivated exclusively in lieu of variety,
sequestered from among its tuber brothers ––
the gold, the red, the purple,
the palette of empire kings,
the nuance of sauce.
Hail deep verge of cilantro!
This portal across the tongue
remains a stone doorway lintel
still raised among ruins, the entrance
to black puma dreams that have all along
kept guard over scorpion fields, quinoa,
and the vast reckoning of ajíes
innumerable as fish.
I race to cure my unwoven starkness.
I skulk these stone city streets,
maybe find a lover in an egg,
or a lake, or a deity from another language
living behind a virid mask.
By Shawn Dallas Stradley
Note: On the coast and in classic creole cusine they use a hot sauce composed of cilantro and hot peppers, while in Cuzco’s cuisine the green element tends to be an indigenous herb called wacatay or huacatay. The poem is about the creole sauce while the picture is of the Cuzco-style sauce.