During Easter peaches show up in Cuzco and are an important food for the holiday. Of course they are enjoyed at other times, but during Holy Week they go into one of the traditional set of small servings eaten in honor of the holiday.
They come from the beautiful valley of Lucre where there are large pastures and radiant trees filed with fruit. The trees are jewel points in the scenery. From there, peaches are shipped to the wholesale markets of the city where the caseras, the vendors, pick them up and distribute them, in their different sizes and colors, throughout the markets of our city.
Peaches are a delicious fruit that is fleshy and very agreeable. There are various varieties of peaches and each has a flavor and quality that is distinctive. They sweeten the palate of the people of Cuzco in their various preparations. We love, for example, peach jam, peach yogurt, peach nectar, canned peaches in syrup, and especially poached peaches.
Peaches probably enter into every house in the city. Mothers generally take charge of making peach jam so all their family can enjoy it. They serve it with chuta bread to make a stupendous pairing that is very traditional. It is pleasing for breakfast or in the afternoon for a lonche or snack.
Stewed peaches are generally served as desert in different restaurants of the city but people also consume lots of this sweet concoction during Easter week. It is one of the traditional and important foods that comprise the twelve Easter dishes served in Cuzco’s households in honor of the occasion.
People say it is good to eat peaches first thing in the morning. Peaches help to regulate and control liver and intestinal functions. They also facilitate the absorption of nutrients. They say peaches are also good for helping you to lose weight. In this case, people tend to drink lots of peach nectar.
This fruit that enchants so many people in Cuzco can easily be obtained in the city’s markets. The largest and most juicy are generally found in the Vinocanchon market or in the San Pedro Market, which are the most popular. The vendors, caseras, sell them for S/0.50 a peach ($0.20US), or three soles (a dollar twenty) a kilo. You can always make a quick stop in the market this time of year to by one or more to enjoy. They are very cuzqueño.
Guisado de Durazno (Stewed Peaches)
4 sticks of cinnamon
2 chancacas (pieces of firm sugar)
1 liter of water.
sugar to taste (about 4 tablespoons)
Stewed peaches are a delicious dessert that is simple, easy, and quickly prepared.
In a pot bring a liter of water to boil together with the cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and molasses sugar (chancaca). Once boiling add the peeled peaches, lightly cut on the side to let the flavor into the liquid. Then add two peeled apples. Let the concoction boil for some ten minutes.
Translator’s note. Chancaca is a raw sugar that still contains substantial molasses. It is similar to a Mexican piloncillo or to dark turbinado sugar. The amount called for is two units that are a tablespoon in size, though it must be noted that they are densely packed.
Serve warm or chilled as you prefer.