Food Culture, Ingredients, Traditional Food

Corn on the Cob and Cheese Returns to Cuzco

Corn and Cheese

Corn is one of the traditional Andean foods that are most produced such as potatoes and others. During the months of November to April it finds its peak of production.

Some years ago grains of corn were omnipresent. Clay pots of mote (oiled, once dried corn) always claimed the middle of the table where they were like an appetizer that could be enjoyed at any moment.

The Variety of Corn in Cuzco
The Variety of Corn in Cuzco

We have different kinds of corn and they have different functions. Those with the largest kernels serve for the making of mote (dried kernels of corn) or to eat as corn on the cob (choclo). Those which are used to make canchas (parched or toasted corn) are smaller in size. Those that are dark colored and small grained are first dried and then toasted for days on roof tops.

In the city of Cuzco’s streets you can already see women selling the very popular sweet corn (choclo) with cheese. On most corners downtown you will find people enjoying this delicious traditional treat of Cuzco.

Corn and Hot Water
Corn and Hot WaterD

From a distance you can already smell the scent of fresh corn boiling in the pots. When you arrive at the point of sale he scent overwhelms you and makes you want to try a steaming ear with a slice of fresh cheese. For us this is the perfect combination.

Vendors serve the corn up in its husks, (pancas) and serve it up hot. The cooked kernels look divine. Their color is beautifully white and stand out against the very green husks.

We eat them one kernel at a time. We tend to pull it off when our fingers and pop it into our mouth, although some people like to peel the kernals. We also take a nibble of cheese so that we are constantly combining the corn and cheese.

Corn and Cheese for Lunch
Corn and Cheese for Lunch

Vendors bring the corn for sale along with small stoves that rely on carbon. To fire up the stoves means that you need to keep a constant air flow. Initially you blow on them to get them going.

Slowly the coals burn into ashes. They keep the heat going while the corn is for sale, but when done the coals are almost entirely ashes.

Choclo with cheese is sold at a good price, 2/S (0.70$US). The serving consists of a big ear of corn and a large chunk of cheese. If you just want the corn, without the cheese, at 1/S (0.35$US).

You can find choclo for sale on many corners of the city, especially ones with lots of foot traffic. But this is also a dish that is commonly eaten in our homes. For Sunday dinners it is common for an entire family to come together to enjoy ears of corn with cheese as a light meal and they may accompany it with a fillet of pan-fried fish. This is another delicious combination.

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