Cuzco Neighborhoods, Ingredients

Juicy and Local, Cuzco’s Cherries and Plums

Sweet Cherries

Cuzco fills with color and a variety of fruits these months. When the rains come the plants grow and produce fruit. During this month of February Cuzco’s tables seem always graced with local varieties of cherries and plums.

Cuzco’s cherry is larger than the European one. It looks somewhat like a plum. The main difference is color. The plums are green and yellow, while the cherry is reddish or garnet in color.

These two fruits are very similar in size and flavor. Both the cherry and the plum are very evocative because of their size and sweetness. They are incomparable. Everyone seems to love them since they have been special treats only at this time of the year that the people learned to appreciate when young.

When I was a child I used to go to the garden of my uncle to gather cherries and plums. I had to climb up the trees since the largest plums were found at the very top of the tree. I had to be be very careful and good because I was competing with the chihuaco bird who would win the game and eat the largest and ripest plums.

Yellow Plums in the Market
Yellow Plums in the Market

For it not to beat us and get all the fruit we would go up the trees very early in the morning. We would pick the fruit when they were still green. It was kind of funny because we would eat some of the green fruit and our mouths would pucker from their tartness at the same time we were delighted.

Cherries and plums are found in all the wholesale markets of Cuzco, such as Vino Canchón, San Pedro, and others. Of course people also plant the trees. You can buy the seed or perhaps a small tree in the Tupac Amaru market on Saturdays.

The fruit comes to market in baskets. Some vendors sell them in small mounds of 10 to 15 plums at a price of S/ 1 – S/ 2 ($0.40 – $0.80). You can also buy them by the kilo. It just depends how much fruit you want to buy.

People will also buy the fruit to get seed to plant. They will leave it in the sunshine to dry and they plant the seed. Once the tree has grown a bit they take it to the market to sell.

A Plum Tree in a Garden
A Plum Tree in a Garden
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