Food Culture, Ingredients

Red and Sweet, Watermelon Entices these Days

Slices of Watermelon to be Enjoyed

Watermelon abounds in Cuzco these days. It is light, juicy, and sweet, a temptation for any passerby who sees it sliced and ready in Cuzco’s markets, with its moist red flesh, and dark seeds.

Though right now the markets fill with watermelon, it is available year round, because it is continually harvested. Whenever you want to enjoy a refreshing slice of watermelon you only have to take a stroll through the popular streets of the city or walk through one of the city’s main markets. You will see women with mounds of the melon and a few gem-like slices on display. Watermelon is never lacking since the majority of Cuzco’s population eats it frequently.

The freshness, sweetness, and color of this melon bring pleasure throughout the year. Watermelons arrive at the wholesale markets of Cuzco–El Molino and Vino Cancho, locsted in the districts of Santiago and San Jeronimo respectively. From there the melons are distributed to all the markets of the city, such as those of San Pedro, Ttio, Wanchaq, etc. Watermelon costs about S/ 2 per kilo ($0.77 US) although the price varies according to demand and supply throughout the year.

Watermelons for Sale
Watermelons for Sale

The melon is not just hidden in the markets. It makes its way onto Cuzco’s streets. Women takeout carts or even just wheelbarrows of this refreshing treat. They sell it in slices that cost S/ 0.50 each ($0.20 US). When a bright sun comes out and temperatures soar these days there is no better way to slake your thirst than enjoying a juicy slice or two of watermelon.

It is genuinely hard to resist this treat. Its color is strong and attractive. As they say in Cuzco’s Spanish “cuando veo rojo me antojo y si no me lo como me enojo” (When I see red, I crave. If I don’t eat it, I’m enraged). Watermelon’s flesh is sweet. Its color goes from pink to deep red and on the palate it is a carnival of freshness.

While speaking with a vendor, a casera, in te San Pedro market I found out that the majority of watermelons they sell come from Peru’s souther region, Tacna, against the border with Chile. Some do come from Cuzco’s Quillabamba but those, she said, are not as as sweet as the ones from Tacna that grow in the sandy areas of that city.

Slicing Watermelon for Sale on Cuzco's Streets
Slicing Watermelon for Sale on Cuzco’s Streets

Watermelon is also healthy for you. It is low in calories and relatively high in vitamins and minerals, even though most of the watermelon is, well, water. It is especially good for the heart, since it produces chemicals that relax your blood vessels.

As a result a brouhaha shook the science press a few years ago in which those chemicals were called “viagra-like”. Nevertheless, the ones in watermelon do not affect one specific area of the body above others nor are they in such quantity as viagra. Nevertheless, the aphrodisiac qualities of the melon seemed confirmed.

Whether it enhances your sex drive or not, watermelon is a delight. It is also a pleasure that comes without many aftereffects so you can indulge just like the people of Cuzco do.

Bright RedSlice of Watermelon
Bright RedSlice of Watermelon
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