In Cuzco the weather changes constantly from cold to hot. It can do so just within the space of a few minutes. When the sun comes out and it is felt strongly, because it is hot, the parks and plazas of our beautiful city not only fill with people, they also draw ice cream vendors. They walk through the street pushing their carts of different flavored ice cream.
It is hard to imagine Cuzco without ice cream vendors or without the experience of enjoying the sun while slowly enjoying an ice cream cone or bar.
While the origins of ice cream may be a debate, it has been in Cuzco for a long time and is very refreshing and comes in great variety. People used to make ice cream by placing a bucket or basin in a vat of ice, pouring in the mix of milk and ingredients, and then stirring crazily as it congealed. You could find such people all over the city. But now the process is much more mechanized and even industrialized. Nevertheless, each the ice cream from each different producer has a different texture and flavor, making it fun to just try the variety.
While Cuzco still has artisanal makers of ice cream, as we reported, it also has more industrial enterprises including Arica, Alaska, and D’onofrio (Both Alaska and D’onofrio are now owned by the multinational Nestle.)
Whether artisanal or industrial most of them have vendors who go into the street to sell their cold treats. These vendors can be children, women, and men. They are part of the color of our streets, parks, and plazas.
Their products vary by producer. Even it they have the same fruit flavor they are not the same. Some are sweeter and some lose the flavor of the fruit. But as the saying goes, “entre gustos y sabores no hay autores” (In tastes and flavors there are no authorities). The important thing is that they are refreshing in the heat and just whenever you want them.
Besides selling in the streets, some ice cream companies have fixed locations in different strategic parts of the city. When ever you want to refresh your palate with a tempting ice cream you only have to go to the parts of the city where people gather, such as parks, plazas or any organized event, to find ice cream. Many small neighborhood stores even have an ice cream freezer to provide you with these treats.
While if you only shop the small freezers in neighborhood stores or the carts and boxes in the streets with national brands you might think the world of ice cream is fixed. In reality it is in constant flux with the use of different combinations of fruit flavors and other flavorizers. Its main limit is the creativity of its producers. One can appreciate this growth and change in the artisanal ice cream shop Hada on Arequipa Street.
Ice cream is eaten year round and ice cream shops are open year round. This is not a seasonal product. Even though Cuzco’s seasons change, people still demand this chilled delight. One can find ice cream shop´s that are open year round in the colonial core, i.e. Dolce Vita, Hada, and Nevada. In addition, ice cream shops are found on all the major arteries of the city, such as the Av. El Sol, the Av. de la Cultura, and the Via Expresa. You can always find ice cream.
When I was young we had a football team in my neighborhood of José Escobedo located in the North East of the city. All the team members where friends of the same generation. We would play in the different neighborhoods of the city where championships were organized. One of my friends would prepare ice cream for the hole team. He also would bring ice cream to sell at the matches in a styrofoam case. The ice cream sold out quickly because they were so good. The people who went to watch the games as well as all the players would ask for one. His business was a success and we enjoyed playing even more.
Although one needs to be careful with calories, ice ream is good for the health. It is even good to improve the state of mind of cancer patients. We need these sweet and cold creams in our historical city.
You do not need to wait for what we call summer in the city of Cuzco (our dry season), even if it is winter elsewhere in Peru, when the sun shines with barely a cloud in the sky and the days are hot. Now that the rains are getting ready to begin (what we often call winter) you can still enjoy and sweeten your palate with a delicious ice cream.