Cuzco Neighborhoods, Food Culture

Fruit Refreshes Cuzco’s Taste Buds in the Festive Season

Seasonal Fruit

The octave of Corpus Christi is coming to an end, although if you were on Cuzco’s Plaza right now you would not know it.  The plaza is filled with the cacophony of different bands accompanying different saints, as well as with all the dance troupes organized in devotion to the saints.  Nevertheless, now the big windup to Inti Raymi and the Day of Cuyzco begins.  It will culminate on the 24th of June.

The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated on teh 30th of May and people ate the populr chiriuchu, the cold plate, with its concentration of a variety of meats and other products, such as guinea pig, chicken, and lamb.

On June 6th and 7th, once again the festive chiriuchu makes its way into Cuzcos’s streets and diets.  The vendors take maximal advantage of the days to sell this dish.  They start early in the morning to offer it to passersby in order to sell all their stock of food.

But this is not all.  With the beginning of June people expect special fruit to appear in the market, in association with the month’s feasts.  These are pacay (inga feuilleei), fresh coconut, cherimoya, and the always popular sugar cane.

Pacay comes to Cuzco from different places in the lowlands, such as Cosñipata, Quillabamba, Puerto Maldonaldo, Abancay, and so on.  The pacay fruit is a long pod, not unlike the pod of a bean.  Inside are seed covered by a sheath that it sweet and delicious.  In fact the pacay is a tree form of legume and, as such, related to beans.  During this month one hundred percent of Cuzqueños consume this fruit.  It has a wonderful flavor and texture.  The cottony sheath may seem like a spun sugar, but it has more substance and w fruity flavor that refreshes and pleases.

Sugar Cane For Sale on Cuzco Streets (Photo: Wayra)
Sugar Cane For Sale on Cuzco Streets (Photo: Wayra)

Fresh coconuts come to Cuzco from all the valleys of Peru.  It is a round, brown fruit, with a hariy shell.  The shell itself is very hard while inside its flesh is white like cheese.  It also has a flavorful liquid the refreshes and gives you energy.  To consume it people perforate in one of the round eye-like places of the shell where it is thinnest.  They put a straw into it and begin pulling out the cool and refreshing drink until there is no more.  Then they break the shell in two and begin eating the white flesh of its inside.

During this season you can also buy cocadas, a kind of candy made from the fresh coconut.  It is sold by the markets and in the streets.

Cherimoya, called by its original name chirimoya here, is increasingly making its way into stores and markets in the United States as well as Asia. A native of the Andes, scientisits call it Annona cherimola. The fruit is sweet and soft.  It reminds one of the creaminess of ice cream.  One variety of it, called mazazanba here, looks the same but has a different flavor.

Sugar cane is the most popular fruit of the city.  People eat it at different times, like now or in Holy Week.  To eat it you have to cross a strong barrier; you must peel it.  The cane`s skin is tough. People peel it delicately with machetes in order to not cut their hands and arrive at the fruit.  It is enjoyed to the fullest.  As you suck on pieces of it you pull out the amazing, green tasting, sugary juice.  Then you can chew it to get every last drop.

Selling a Variety of Fruits (Photo: Wayra)
Selling a Variety of Fruits (Photo: Wayra)

Sugar cane grows in all the warm zones, but it mostly comes from Quillabamba and Cosñipata.

Any of these fruits can be found in Cuzco’s markets today at a very comfortable price according to the fruit’s size and quality.  Generally they cost between two and 7 soles.

The sells put on batteries, they work hard.  They take the fruit into the streets in wheelbarrows.  They often use a mocrophone and a speaker, in order to announce their offerings to the public.  They shout out “casera, buy fruit for a wholesale price.  We offer sugar cane, the delicious chirimoya, and the juicy coconut.  Buy some casera at an amazing price.”  From early in the morning they pass through Cuzco’s streets in order to sell the fruit and privde every Cuzqueño with the opportunity to enjoy the preferred fruit of this month of feasting.

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