Every weekend in the city of Cuzco, its people go about making their respective purchases in the markets. On those days the caseras, vendors, bring out their best preparations and products for sale to those who are looking for different foods to take home.
Many caseras sit on the ground to sell. They arrange their pots on a cloth, a brightly colored queperina, as we call it and wrap them in more cloth to keep the prepared food inside them hot. Some of the caseras wear traditional clothing such as broad skirts called polleras along with broad brimmed, tall hats.
The food that these caseras cook up is delicious and unique. You often cannot find it in any other part of the city. They are only sold in the markets. The most recognized of the dishes they offer are: fish with chuño (freeze dried potato), chicharron (deep fried and crispy) pork head, and then mustard greens or what we call nabo.
These are the foods that make a difference and people cannot resist them when they go by. People consume plates of these foods while standing or squatting. They figure out how to enjoy them since the caseras have neither tables nor chairs.
The greens are also called “parrot stew”, that is estofado de loro, as well as ” yuyu jaucha”. It is one of the most Cuzqueño of dishes.
For many people this delicious food is the best that Cuzco’s markets offers to eat. It has an exquisite flavor and furthermore it is made with some of our most delicious ingredients, such as potatoes, mote (boiled grains of corn), and boiled broad beans. When they serve it up the caseras add a bit of blood they call morcilla or sangrecita. This blood has already been cooked so that it can be eaten with no worries.
This traditional dish was one of the platos banderas, the signature dishes, of our ancestors. They would eat it regularly and in large portions since it contains all of the necessary nutrients found in their fields.
Today this dish is only made up and offered in our markets. Few people make it at home any more and with the passage of years it has lost value in the eyes of the young like so many others of our typical dishes.
Besides being delicious, the dish is also healthy and curative. The nabo (greens) help cure rheumatism, for example. You can find this dish for sell now that the rains have come in our public markets. It costs only 3soles, a bit more than one dollar.