San Sebastian, a District of the City of Cuzco, is in fiesta during the month of January. Its celebration includes dance troupes, bands, and food, of course. All of this is offered in honor of its patron saint, St. Sebastian. The holy figure makes a procession through the district in the company of all the dance troupes as well as the people of the district and elsewhere in Cusco.
Besides the movement, color, and vigor of the dances our attention is drawn to the food. You will find a large variety of dishes available, such as the chiriuchu, one of our traditional festive dances. This is the first time it makes an appearance during the year. You will also find deserts made from fruit, various extras—such as costillar frito (fried ribs), chicharrón, and more. One dish that must always be present in the feast of St. Sebastian is the famous chupe de peras or kapchi de peras, a pear chowder or soup.
Given its name you might thing the chupe de peras is a sweet desert made from fruit, but it is not. It is a dish that is completely traditional and indigenous to the district of San Sebastian. Only during its fiesta can you appreciate ad enjoy the flavor of this typical dish.
The chupe is a traditional soup from Peru. With the addition of different ingredients, such as prawns or crayfish, it changes into a chupe de camarones. It becomes more than a mere soup. In this case the people of the district of Santiago make up the chupe or chowder with its traditional ingredients of potatoes, corn, spinach, rice, cheese, and fish eggs, to which they add pears. This makes its flavor expand and become much more than a simple chupe.
Just as with the twelve dishes of Holy Week, this typical dish does not have any meat. That makes it all the more interesting to people.
The pears that it calls for are not the common, ordinary ones. These are small pears that ripen during this time. You can find them now in almost all of our markets in Cuzco. Of course you can eat them by themselves, but you can also use them for this typical dish.
This dish costs about the same as any extra, such as for example a big bowl of chairo soup (made with chuño –freeze dried potatoes—and tripe). It falls between 6 and ten soles. The problem with being able to enjoy the dish, however, is not its cost. it is finding a place to eat it, since the plaza and surrounding area is filled with people. It is hard to find a free spot. All the places where the dish is prepared and offered are generally filled with people during the feast. You have to wait to find a site to eat. Otherwise it is good to arrive early and find a place to enjoy your chupe as a start to the rest of the fiesta.