drinks, Events, Traditional Food

Frutillada, the Special Drink of Cuzco’s Carnival

A Compadre with a Glass of Fruitillada

The sweet and delicious strawberry chicha called frutillada or frutillas is enjoyed throughout the Valley of Cusco. It is one of our favorite drinks.

During this month frutillada is simply the most acclaimed in the Carnival celebrations of Cuzco. Women, Men, and children drink it. Its flavor is delightfully subtle. It is the traditional drink of our Carnival.

Fresh Strawberries to Make Frutillada (Wayra)
Fresh Strawberries to Make Frutillada (Wayra)

This refreshing drink with its strawberry flavor is delicate and the beverage is foamy. It claims a magic touch of a dash of ground cinnamon that makes it unique. It is served in a huge glass we call a caporal. You will find a liter of frutillada in the caporal as well as an entire strawberry that you find in the glass’ bottom as you finish your drink. It is surprise.

Our way of drinking it is also unique and has much cultural meaning. You first give a sip to the earth, by pouring a bit on the ground, in order to share the frutillada with her and to greet and honor her. Then you offer it to the apus, the mountains, by looking at the sky and blowing a bit from the glass so that the wind will carry it to them. This is the first thing that you should do before drinking. Then you greet all of those present with you by clinking your glasses together. Then you drink down and enjoy fully. Most people just drink a sip or two at a time. This is the way to enjoy a wonderful frutillada.

You will see men and woman drinking it and going “chichitaaaaaa , chicherooooo! . . .”

A Stand of Frutillada in the Street, Friends sharing a Glass of Frutillada Drink
A Stand of Frutillada in the Street, Friends sharing a Glass of Frutillada Drink

During these days of Compadres and tomorrow Comadres, as well as Carnival, its remate—its final celebration, and in the yunzas, this traditional drink is key. The traditional women bring large buckets of frutillada to please all of those present in the feast and to share it with all around.

It preparation is very much like that of chicha of corn with the difference that to it is added frutillas, strawberries from the Sacred Valley. The women of my neighborhood say that blending the fruit with the chicha gives it a very special flavor. Drinking chicha is a social occasion and a traditional one we inherited from our grandparents.

Serving a Glass of Frutillada (Wayra)
Serving a Glass of Frutillada (Wayra)

I heard the comments of older Cusqueños that the best frutillada is found in Maras. Nevertheless, throughout Cusco you will find a specific frutillada whose flavor is particular to that neighborhood, whether you are in Cusco or in the Sacred Valley. Everyone loves it because of its sweetness and the touch of strawberry.

You might find a street vendor selling it or you might find it in one of our city’s chicherías. In them you will find three types of chicha: that made of quinoa, with corn, or one of corn mixed with strawberries. The latter is our favorite we call frutillada.

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