Commentary, drinks, Food Culture

Papaya, A Jewel in Cusco’s Crown

Common Papaya in Cusco

The City of Cusco dresses up in bright colors every day with the arrival of fruit to our markets. The vendors arise early to receive them and set them out carefully on their stands for sale. With much enthusiasm they choose the ripest fruit to place front and center before their clients.

Much of the fruit sold in our markets is not for sale all year round. It only appears in its season. Examples include chirimoya and coconut. Nevertheless, we also have fruit that are our companions throughout the year, such as the papaya. You can always find it in our markets.

With a combination of yellow and orange this fruit illuminates our caseras (vendors) market stands. It has a great size and is always presentable.

It has a sweet and soft flavor. When you bite into a bit of the fruit you are enchanted by its juice spreading out over your palate and giving you a pleasant feeling.

Close Up Papaya from Arequipa
Close Up Papaya from Arequipa

In Cusco, three kinds of papaya are commonly sold. These are the Arquipeña, the common, and the small. These varieties are distinguished by size.

The common papaya has the largest size and is used to prepare natural juices. In contrast, the Arequipeña papaya is of medium size and is eaten in slices. The small papaya is, no surprise, the smallest and is only used to make a drink or marmalade.

In general they bring these papayas from Qosñipata and Quillabamba in Cusco’s department.

Everyone can enjoy this fruit and its varieties in many different ways. They are sold in the market by kilos. The cost of each kilo is 2.5 cents (céntimos of the Peruvian sol.

Small Papaya from Cusco's Sacred Valley
Small Papaya from Cusco’s Sacred Valley

In addition, this fruit is used to better cook meat. A bit of it is used so that the meat will cook faster and be more tender. Many people rely on this tactic, especially the vendors of anticuchos (skewers) who every day sell this treat in our streets.

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