As the sun rises over Cuzco, before many people are awake, already students begin to gather at Cuzco’s universities and breakfast carts on on the street are ready. A hot drink and some cake or bread, the traditional urban breakfast is there waiting for them. In this case, the hot drink is a nourishing quinoa gruel, making it an important part of Cuzco’s street food.
Many students have early classes and have to leave home before they have a chance to make their own breakfast. They often pull themselves out of bed and run to class. Furthermore, while some students live with their families, many come from Cuzco’s provinces and take rooms in the city where they might not have access to a kitchens. As a result, having carts offering hot quinoa to sip right at the universities’ gates is very useful.
Daily a crowd gathers around the carts ordering and drinking their breakfast. Often the people stand still in the morning’s chill, focusing on their food and finding the energy to start the day. Other times laughter breaks out among groups of friends from a quickly spoken joke.
People at the carts said they thought the breakfast from the carts was a good value. They said that because time was so scarce in the mornings it was a great service that let them have a good, nourishing breakfast so their minds could work in class. They argued that quinoa, especially, stimulated their ability to learn.
The quinoa’s flavor is sweet and delicious. It is quinoa boiled in water flavored with cloves and cinnamon into a thin, warm gruel. The vendors often have big slices of cake available as well as bread, should their customers wish. They can also order up a glass of quinoa made with maca, an indigenous root known for its high nutritional content. People often ask for it.
Now a days these breakfast carts serving quinoa are found not just at universities but at busstops and terminals as well as other places people congregate throughout Peru. They join the traditional emolienteras to meet the increasing demand for fast food in the street since city life makes it difficult to always have breakfast at home.