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Curawasi, The Aromatic Land

The district of Curawasi is located between the route Cusco – Abancay, exactly in the locality of Pisonaypampa due to the abundance of Pisonay (a native tree of the Inca period). This is a privileged place for the sowing of anise and flaxseed because of its location and its fertile land it has.

The work to produce these seeds requires extreme care and cleanliness from cultivation to harvest.

Before planting, the land must be prepared with natural fertilizer and a special ceremony is made to ask the Pachamama for permission to plant. They summon their Apus or protective mountains to be able to start the sowing. In this ceremony, all the participants come. They were summoned in ayni or collective work for the sowing.

The males start planting by opening furrows in a straight line and the women place the seeds with their hands in the furrows and cover them little by little.

After a week, the seeds begin to grow. They are small plants very similar to the coriander plant and, as it grows, the owner will take care of and clean the planting area, removing all weeds because the harvest must be clean. 3 months after the anise is planted, the first seeds begin to be seen. When they are hard, the harvest will begin.

To start the harvest, another offering is made to the mother earth and thanking the Apus for good production. After the ceremony, people begin to lay large canopies or blankets in free areas. They cut the stems of the anise plant and pile it up in small bundles, leaving it there for days until it dries well.

A Handful of Coca Leaves (Walter Coraza)
A Handful of Coca Leaves (Walter Coraza)

When the plants are well dried, its stems are lifted and their tops are hit with a small stick to let the dry seed fall. People remove the dried stems because they use them as firewood to prepare their meals. Small twigs that remain are removed by hand. The work is 100% by hand and is very hard. After this work is done, they wait for the sunset to take advantage of the wind and completely clean the anise grains.

With the first grains that are collected, people prepare a flavoring which they sprinkle on the house and wash their sheets. It is said that the hotels of Curawasi have an aroma of anise.

Anise is said to be a good digestive and anisette liquor is made from it. The San Antonio Abad University of Cusco has a processing plant in Curawasi.

Anise is planted twice a year; the first harvest begins in May and the second in December. Anise lands are exclusive; in them no other product can be sown.

After sowing and harvesting anise, people eat the Curawasina Snack, which consists of a variety of meats, such as guinea pig meat, chicken, duck, pork, accompanied with noodles and a stew of beef. They wash it down with the inevitable chicha.

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