Extras in Cuzco are special meals, and they are gigantic portions. This is good food that many people desire. Extras are really the food that Cuzqueños eat.
Extras are traditional dishes that are typical and representative of Cuzco. The are stand out dishes that with time have fused with Creole cuisine from the cost. Today what we see is an established code that is a mixture of the two worlds of food, Cuzco and the coast.
The custom of Cuzco is to eat well. This means that there should be a lot of food and that it should be good. Extras, like other dishes the people of Cuzco like, are mountains of food. The dishes are always well served and delivered. In the most traditional of places they even offer seconds if you wish, what we call a yapa. All of this enchants the people of Cuzco. They like it to be traditional, well served, and well delivered. That is the most pleasing.
These special dishes are sold throughout the city in a whole range of restaurants. As a result some things vary and some ingredients change, but in the end all are similar. We can go to a picantería, a quinta, a huarique, or just to the market, to name places where traditional Cuzco-style food is offered, in order to enjoy these wonderful dishes that characterize our city and region.
One of the best places to find good extras as well as other options from a varied menu is the San Pedro Market. Every day it draws a multitude of customers from among the people of Cuzco and foreigners.
The Market is divided into sections in terms of what is offered. The names labeling each section are written in Quechua and then translated into Spanish and English. They are found on banners that hang from the ceiling at the beginning of each sector.
Where extras are sold is named “Llactanchis Mijuy” in Quechua, in Spanish “Comida Popular”, and in English “Popular Food”. To know more of the names in Quechua, ask one of the caseras, the vendors, who sell full meals. They told me that “llactanchis mijuy” really means in Spanish “la comida del pueblo” which in English is “the food of the ordinary people” or the town.
Each casera has a small stand located in a small area that draws many people on a narrow row. Where the extras are sold is really in small restaurants open to the public with tables and chairs on the aisle. There people share tables and eat in harmony. You can’t reserve a table here. Everyone eats together since the tables are large and the chairs big.
The restaurants are all in a row. There are seven, one after another. There is a strong demand for extras. For that reason each stand has its own barkers, called jaladores, who every day fight to pull in customers to fill up the restaurant’s tables. The barkers carry a menu where they have a list of all the extras that are offered in these places.
The restaurants offer a varied selection of dishes. Every morning they have a range of special soups. These are the concentrated soups that people like to have as breakfast, before starting their day. Each bowl of soup gives you energy to start your daily labors and they are completely Cuzcqueño. Among the popular soups are soup from head, lamb soup, soup from knuckles, malaya soup, chicken soup, and tripe soup. These are the most well known and consumed.
At midday, the hour of lunch, the stands come alive again with their extras. Its people and the narrow aisle of the sector come to life with the voices of the barkers calling out their offerings as they attempt to convince people to come and try their delicious special dishes.
To open the appetite they serve a small bowl of concentrated broth. This lamb broth has a wonderful subtle flavor. They give it to you to both distract you a bit and to keep you busy while waiting for them to bring you your main course. They generally have a long list of offerings, such as malaya, beef steak, trout, and milanesa (breaded cutlets) of beef, chicken, and trout. Every dish has the meat and its accompaniments which are rice, french fries and salad, or they could come with beans, mashed potatoes, or pasta. besides the classic Cuzco dishes these restaurants also offer creole classics such as lomo saltado or lomo montado. This last is a steak with a fried egg on top. To drink you can choose a natural drink made from apple or sodas.
Many tourists join the people of Cuzco at the tables who come every day to enjoy this culinary experience.
In comparison with the price of a normal fixed price, set lunch, a menu as we call it, the extras are a bit expensive. The Menu is around 5/S ($2 US) while the extras cost from 10-15 /S ($4-$6 US) a high price for the people of Cuzco.
Cuzco offers us a wide set of gastronomic possibilities. There is really a great variety, from Chinese to Korean, Thai, Middle Eastern, Novo-Andean and Argentine. But is we wish to get to know the city of Cuzco then we cannot do better than to go to a place liek the San Pedro market, sit at a common table, and enjoy an extra. This is part of the heart and soul of Cuzco.