The people of Cuzco receive the new year by eating the “good luck meat”, pork, in one of its traditional forms of preparation. In Cuzco we call it chanchito and consider it a bringer of good luck for the coming year.
Cuzco’s markets filled with pork meat for this celebration and the markets, in turn, were overwhelmed with housewives who wanted to select and buy good pork to take home for their traditional dishes.
For these days, the price of pork rose, although prices varied according to the quality of the meat. They ranged from S/11 to S/15 per kilo (US $4 – US $6). Even though the costs were higher, people still bought pork to make their meals since it is worth a bit more money to build good luck for 2013.
According to the caseras, the market women, who sell pork every day, the hogs of Cuzco mature quickly because of Cuzco’s climate and because of their food. They are fed organic foods such as potato peels, vegetables, corn leaves and cobs, all of which have properties to help them grow. They not only eat this but also leftovers from the food eaten by the people of Cuzco.
The tradition for receiving the new year is to eat a delicious and crispy oven-baked lechón or pork roast. To make this Cuzco’s women condiment the meat and leave it marinate to take on a traditional flavor.
Besides lechón, some families prefer to eat chicharrón. It all varies according to the tastes and customs of the family.
On January first people enjoy another traditional dish made with pork called adobo. After a night of celebrating this is the most juicy and tasty dish to give energy and help people recover. It is always accompanied by bread.
The first fay of the year some families go out to enjoy a serving a delicious pork. Whether it is lechón, adobo, or chicharrón, they can find it in restaurants specializing in these traditional dishes both inside and outside the city.
The city of Cuzco has many places where you can enjoy these traditional, Cuzco-style dishes. One good restaurant is the Mundialistas (Pampa del Castillo 371, 445). It is a very popular place located in the colonial core, a bit over a block from the Plaza de Armas, the main square. The street it is on, Pampa del Castillo, is known as the street of chicharrones and lechones since on it are found a whole variety of Cuzco-style restaurants specializing in these dishes.
Others prefer to leave the city and one of the most recommended places for pork is the town of Saylla, only thirty minutes from the center of Cuzco. Here you can especially enjoy their famous chicharrones. As you check out the different restaurants to see which one suits you best you will find that each will invite you to take a taste of their tocto, or cracklings (fried pork skin) in order to get you to come in and have their chicharrón.
Another famous place is Huarocondo known as “The Land of Lechón”. It is known for serving the best pork roast, exquisitely presented with tamales, salty and sweet. Here the pork is tender since the pigs only grow for six months. Huarocondo is on Cuzco’s northeast, an hour from the city.
Besides these places you can find lechón on the streets of Cuzco. The caseras, vendors, go out early with their carts to sell lechón. Dressed in white with aprons and caps, they serve the public exquisite meat, tender crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. It is hard to walk by without at least taking a taste.
If you walk down Cuzco’s streets today you will see a lot of people eating in the open air and enjoying their pork. In the streets you will also find Cuzco’s special sweet tamales that are the perfect accompaniment for the pork.
To start the new year right we have three delicious options, lechón, chicharrón, and adobo. If we eat one of the, which ever of them, we will not be sorry. The msot important thing today is to enjoy some pork to bring us good luck in 2013.
Cuzqueños enjoy these dishes year round and not just on New Years, since they are among our most favorite. Nevertheless, you do not just start the new year by eating twelve grapes and making twelve wishes, you look for luck by also eating pork. There is no better way to begin the year than with a succulent dish of pork and good fortune.