Apples are a temptation that not even Cuzco could resist. Once they made their way here, with Christianity and stories of Eden, they became indispensable in Cuzco’s cuisine.
Apples of a range of types and colors make their way into Cuzco’s markets. The caseras (vendors) offer them for sale from very early in the morning. They are also sold in our stores.
In Cuzco apples are needed for deserts, drinks, and juices. Among other things we find them in pye de manzana (a kind of apple pie tending toward apple cake), stewed apples, apple juice, quinoa with apples, chicha morada with apples, apple jam, and mazamorra morada (purple pudding) with apples. This last is especially popular in the afternoons. People have it with some delicious Oropesa bread. They say that apple is also very good for our health. It helps the brain, aids in reducing weight, and also augments the good functioning of our kidneys.
Apple water, a common and refreshing beverage in Cuzco, is good for our brains. It is made on the basis of a green apple called perito. This apple comes to us from Huaral in Lima. Vendors say they rely on the perito green apples because they are more juicy and make the juice tastier, more concentrated, and hence more effective.
Every day you can find this beverage on sale in our streets and markets. Everyone in Cuzco drinks it, especially after work or after having exercised.
This drink is sold by the glass and each glass costs about S/ 0.50 ($0.20US). This is a economical price and lets us enjoy this wonderful apple water. With just taking a sip you feel like you have been taken into the heavens with its taste and a single glass will leave your thirst slaked and you with energy.
Quinoa with apples is another nutritious drink that is good for the brain. It is made with diced apples. They are then boiled with the Quinoa. This beverage is famous in the city of Cuzco. The majority of people, especially students, have it in the morning for breakfast so they can concentrate in their classes and throughout their day. You can find this drink easily and at an economic price. It is sold from carts from early in the morning to the side of the markets, and in front of Cuzco’s schools and universities. Each glass of quinoa with apples costs S/ 1 ($0.20).
The gardens and orchards of Cuzco have a lot of apple trees. The fruit they produce is small and green splashed with red. This kind of apples is called garden apples. They are juicy and sweet while tart. We are told by vendors as well as our mothers that these are particularly good for helping our brains. They are widely eaten in Cuzco. In order for the fruit to get large and delicious many of the trees are carefully cared for and fertilized. Some trees produce large apples but it all depends on the tree and the land on which it is located.
For chicha morada, our iconic Peruvian drink which everyone drinks whether with lunch or only to sustain a conversation, the apple is also used. It is diced in small squares and added to the glasses when the beverage is served. They give that last wonderful bit of taste to the chicha.
This fruit raises hopes in people for its nutritious value. It is also widely used to make apple juice, since it has an exquisite flavor and it gives you lots of energy. If you are very active you especially want apple juice. It is sold in all the different juice stores of Cuzco.
In my neighborhood, when I was a child, my neighbor had an enormous tree with juicy apples. Every time I saw that tree it tempted me to eat one of its fruit. The ripest and largest apples were at the very top of the tree. When I would climb up I could only make it about half way up. I could not go on because I would get afraid and it was dangerous.
So I cut a long apple branch, the longest I could find, and attached to it a bag and a metal hook. In this way I could pull at the apple and have it fall into my bag. It it were to fall to the ground it would burst.
This way I could pick the ripest and most juicy apples. I would take them home and give them to my mother. She would stew them up and they were delicious.
Apples are tempting and delicious fruit With their sweet and sour taste, they have become indispensable for Cuzco’s cuisine. We Cuzqueños love our apples.