Food Culture

Potatoes and Eggs Mean Breakfast As-You-Go for Cuzqueños

Boiled Potatoes and Egg for Breakfast in Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Although tourist restaurants fill with people having breakfast in the international style, the people of Cuzco  have different tastes for breakfast. On the street they like either soup, or a bowl of quinoa with maca. This last is sold on many, if not all of the main city’s corners.

Strange as it may seem, throughout the world meals were not always defined as they are now. In fact the international standard of breakfast, with its bowls of granola, its coffee, and such, is relatively recent.

Mariva Potatoes and Boiled Egg (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Mariva Potatoes and Boiled Egg (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Coffee did not even begin to take the Europe by storm until the seventeenth century. Great coffee plantations in Latin America are a phenomena from the the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is the case, even though it seems like people have been drinking coffee since the first humans left Africa more than 50,000 years ago.

Today there is another breakfast in Cuzco that has become very popular among the people who claim their first meal from the streets. It is potato with egg. This simple meal is one where people can eat two or three portions to fill themselves with protein and carbohydrate in order to meet the day’s demands.

Both the potatoes and the eggs are boiled, one of the simplest forms of preparation and one that goes back in Peru to well before Inca times. The caseras (vendors) sell them in small bowls and they accompany then with the two most popular sauces in the city: mayonnaise and hot sauce made from local ajies.

A Basket of Hot Potatoes and Egg (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Basket of Hot Potatoes and Egg (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

The vendors rely on papa mariva, a potato with a dark Peel that is very fluffy, for this dish. When you taste it you realize it is so fluffy that it is hard to get down without one of the sauces, even though it is delicious. That is why the caseras provide both mayonnaise and uchukuta, our hot sauce.

They are in place from 8 in the morning with a covered basket wrapped in a colorful carrying cloth, queperina, as if it were a baby. They keep the basket well wrapped, just like they do the baby, so it (and the food in it) will not get cold.

School kids and university students tend to be the first to try this pleasing snack before going to class.

A Delicious and Nutritious Breakfast (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Delicious and Nutritious Breakfast (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

As the day goes on the vendors regularly sell out. But before that they run out of the sauces. Almost everyone who has potatoes with egg eats them with lots of the hot sauce. The uchukuta changes the color of the dish at the same time it gives it a delicious flavor.

After you have finished one dish you need to eat another and so on. It is not uncommon to sit ande at 3 or 4 portions.

You can do that because the dish is inexpensive. Caseras charge some 1.20/S per portion (about 0.45$US).

Not only can you find potatoes with egg on every main corner of the city, you can also easily make the dish at home and enjoy it with your family.

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