Customs, Traditional Food

Soup Warms and Nourishes for Breakfast in Cuzco

Caldos, Soup as Breakfast in Cuzco

Every morning people begin their day taking their daily breakfast. They may do so at home with their family or in the street with friends and acquaintances. There they may enjoy breakfasts such as maca, quinoa, 7 flours, tea, coffee, bread, and more.

One breakfast that many, if not all, cusqueños prefer, is composed of caldos, soups—chicken soup, adobo, beef knuckle soup (caldo de patitas), tripe soup (caldo de panza)—as well as main courses such as rice with egg. We love this, even though they make some people think this food is more appropriate for lunch than for breakfast.

Nevertheless, the idea of breakfast as a small meal of coffee and bread and such, i.e. a continental style breakfast, is relatively new. We here in Cuzco will have that kind of breakfast but we still like the older tradition of a regular meal, or regular food, especially soups.

Many people work from very early in the morning, such as taxi drivers, merchants, and others. A different set of issues is true for the. They eat at different times, than many other people. They eat a late breakfast around 10 or 11 in the morning, near midday. As a result they want something more substantial.

Rice with Egg as a Breakfast
Rice with Egg as a Breakfast

At that time they enjoy plates which have a good component of aji, or our hot rocoto pepper diced, and some bread. They converse about enjoying a “good breakfast”. The places where they go for this pleasure are called by different names, but they are generally known as “huariques”, favorite neighborhood restaurants. They tend to be found in places preferred by those who want these breakfasts.

The markets are always a good option for trying a rich chicken soup or knuckle soup, rice with egg, and other dishes. For example, the San Pedro market is characterized by its stands for rice and egg as well as those that specialize in soup. The market of Rosas Pata is characterized by its ceviche and chilcano served by Señora Alicia.

On the Pampa del Castillo and San Andres streets you will find adobos and chicharrones. Other well-known places are celebrated for their flavor made by the caseras as well. My father is a taxi driver and he knows many of these places. He can tell you about their sazon, their flavor, as well as which are the most popular.

He says that taxi drivers who work early in the morning cannot have their breakfast the same time as school children, at 7 or 8 in the morning. That is a major hour for transportation and taxi drivers face great demand, since school children must arrive early at school and other people need to get to their jobs.

Chicken Soup, Caldo de Gallina
Chicken Soup, Caldo de Gallina

Furthermore, early in the morning the cold blows in. As a result you need some hot soups with hot peppers (aji) and some bread to drive away the Andean cold and alleviate your hunger.

Just like my father, other people also take their breakfast on the streets and have soup. By their home and in their neighborhoods they often have a huarique. People spread the word along their networks of friends and family about good places to eat. If you are part of those sets of relationships you too will hear and will be able to prove that they serve absolutely wonderful food. This is part of the delight of life in Cuzco.

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