Food Culture, Traditional Food

Manca Chicharro, new food trend in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Mancachicharro, a tradicional dish from Chinchero, Sacred Valley (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

On the route from Cusco to Urubamba, also known the route to the Sacred Valley, there are beautiful landscapes and delicious cuisine.

The views towards the fields of green crops during the rainy and yellow during the dry periods contrast with the sunsets full of yellow and red colors as if the earth and the sky danced among themselves for their spectators who are the immense mountains painted in white. For decades they have witnessed changes of the earth as well as of its people.

This route not only offers beautiful views but also places to know, for example, Chinchero is with its Inca temples as well as its textile centers—where they teach us the spinning process and also the coloring in a natural way—or Maras, Moray and the mines of salt.

But something very peculiar recently appeared because of the influx of people to all these places where there are still not enough tourist restaurants to offer comfort or service for diners or that show the beauty of the place with creativity and the revaluation of ancient traditions to locals and visitors who can eat and enjoy the scenery at the same time.

Patricia and her traditional food stand in Chinchero (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Patricia and her traditional food stand in Chinchero (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Along the route and main road from Chinchero to Maras there are signs that say: “manca chicharro”. Next to them you see a small blue or black outdoor tent. When you visit these stands you will always see the smiling ladies inviting you to sit down. They have on colorful dresses and their peculiar hats. They are by the side of a Fogón or small Andean wood stove. You also see the Tumi where they sell the yellow Chicha or the famous pink Strawberry chicha. That’s where you wonder what the manca chicharro is? Not even 10 seconds pass and you find the answer. It is a dish made with pork cooked in a clay pot.

Manca Chicharro in the menu list
Manca Chicharro in the menu list and the beauty of Chinchero (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

What makes this mancachicharro different from the famous chicharron (also very consumed in places like Saylla or Poroy in Cusco) mancachicharro is as its proper name means manca = clay pot and chicharro = fried pork. Then we should understand that It is fried pork made in a clay pot, just as it was cooked in ancient times where clay pots were used to cook in the wood stove.

The manca chicharro has a special flavor since it is seasoned with the Salt of Maras that gives it a deeper flavor. The meat is soft since when cooked in a clay pot it is first cooked before obtaining the fry of the chicharrón. It is a dish worth recommending to everyone.

This delicious dish is served together with native potatoes, onion salad, mint accompanied by mote (that is cooked corn), rocoto relleno and the inevitable spicy sauce “uchukuta”

Frutillada, the main drink of Chinchero (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Frutillada, the main drink of Chinchero (Walter Coraza Morveli)

If you have the opportunity to visit this route to the Sacred Valley do not forget to make a stop to try the delicious strawberry chicha or plain chicha if you are thirsty or if hungry taste the famous mancachicharro where the ladies of the place like Patricia will be more than happy to serve you. At the end, do not forget to order your glass of anisette glass “to kill the piglet,” a well known phrase in this part of Peru that means “to lose fat”.

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