The Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the most engaging and intriguing places in the Department of Cusco. It is a beautiful place in which to wander and explore and, especially, to enjoy its wonderful food.
In terms of all the area the Valley embraces there are many activities you can carry out. You can visit archeological sites, fine hotels, as well as a whole range of restaurants offering delightful experiences in many kinds of food.
We can look more closely at the different locales, their traditions, typical festivities, their religious feasts. These are among the things that most attract urban travelers.
The food, though, captures people’s attention. You can find it right by the side of the road, between river and mountains, among enormous corn fields. Between Calca and Lamay the favorite and popular dish is cuy al palo, guinea pig on a stick.
When you arrive you will see a giant representation of a guinea pig, cute and attractive, welcoming you to the best place for cuy, locals claim. It welcomes you and promises you excellent guinea pig in all its variations, cuy al palo, cuy al horno (baked fish). cuy pepian, and others. They are prepared in the open air in small ovens where clients can see the whole process.
I loved this place. Their food is a delight. It is different than in the city of Cusco. Rich flavored form skilled cooking, the cuy was particularly good. Its flesh was tender and combined with the delicate flavor of its stuffing. It depends on the magical Peruvian culinary herb, huacatay, also called black mint.
The skin was the best part, crispy like a cracker. The cuy was served with some fluffy and well flavored potatoes, called huayro. The tables also had the unmissable hot sauce we call uchukuta. All together it was a luxurious combination for those who love our typical foods.
Some people do not approve of our eating cuy. Maybe it is not a custom in their countries; maybe they raise guinea pigs as pets. Here in the Andes, though, we do eat cuy. It is an important custom for us. I recommend tourists try the meat so that they can know more about us and our ways.
The Sacred Valley is only an hour away from the City of Cusco by road. This is a place you can enjoy with amazing scenery, lots of important archeological sites, and tasty food. You will have a great experience in the Valley of the Incas.
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R. Alan Covey is an archeologist and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an acknowledged expert in the archeology of Cusco and a student of the formation of Empire. His work comes well recommended.
Brian S Bauer is simply one of the foremost authorities on Inca Cusco. He is a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the above work is a classic while the work on Vilcabamba breaks new ground in understanding the Incas who resisted Spanish rule in the almost mythical Vilcabamba for decades.