Peas are an indispensable ingredient in Cuzco’s cuisine. Legumes from the same broad family as beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), and lentils, peas are valued for the nutritional value and for their contribution to health. While dried peas fit into a range of dishes, the bright green color of a fresh pea makes it a key element in dish after dish to bring beauty and pleasure.
Peas are rich in proteins and carbohydrates. They are also low in fats and are a good source of fiber. They give us A, B, and C vitamins. They also come in both dried forms—where they are long-lasting when stored—and as fresh peas. They also have a variety of colors, although nothing is more attractive and a well-formed pea, colored like a small, emerald globe.
In Cuzco, peas are generally sewn along with corn and broad beans. Farmers do this so the pea vines have a support to climb on. In some places they raise bush peas, but here the majority come as vines.
While peas show up in supermarkets, and neighborhood stores, they also are stars of our local markets. Vendors bring them in big bags we call costales. They sell them according to weight, whether as kilos or as arrobas (25 lbs.), etc.
In any case, on Sundays the markets fill with people who come to buy their food for the week. Among other things they purchase peas, since they are necessary for so many rice dishes, stews, and soups.
Other people do a different kind of business with peas. In order to make a little extra money they buy large bags of peas and then remove them from their pods so clients can buy peas ready to cook. Often they put them in little plastic bags and charge 0.50/S and 1 /S (The sol is around 0.36$US). These bags are found in many different places throughout the city and constitute a standard portion.
This vegetable is very important for us. It constitutes and ingredient in a large quantity of foods. Among others we can mention our delicious green rice with pollo. Flavored with stock and cilantro the rice takes on an attractive greenish brown cast that is brightened by the green peas that decorate it.
We also find peas in our escabeche de gallina. This dish is a cold plate of pickled vegetables along with cold chicken. The peas are like little gems that are brightened by the tartness of the vinegar that makes the dish.
Of course, peas are also found in salads and of course in soups. One can even make a crème of peas.
You can also find many other products made from peas as well as pea flour. Indeed, peas are one of the simple marvels of Cuzco.