It’s night in Cuzco and the cold settles in. One might think the streets would be empty with everyone home in their warm beds. But no. This city still lives at night. People throng to its discos and bars and so many other people move around to serve them. And they get hungry.
At night, as a result, you can find a great variety of what are called “comidas al paso” or “food as you walk by”. Dishes such as locro de pecho (squash stew with brisket), estofado de pollo (chicken stew), segundo de fideo (main dish of pasta), arroz con huevo (rice and egg), montado (beef with egg) and many other dishes easch accompanied by a spicy salad of rocoto and onions. The smells and flavors tempt people to enjoy the cuisine of night.
Indeed, these dishes are not only a pleasure to eat they are a relief for all the people whose work keeps them up at night, such as bouncers and security agents, candy sellers, and handicraft sellers. Or it is there to relieve the hunger of those who as just passing by looking for fun in the bars discotheques, and other centers of entertainment.
If you are out at night, you will see people standing in small crowds huddled over their plates, or seated in doorways and sidewalks while eating. And in the middle there will be a woman, with containers of hot food wrapped in colorful cloth, serving up new dishes to the people who join the throng.
Beginning around nine at night you wil see scenes like this on the streets of Cuzco. Plateros street, along with Procuradores, Suecia, and the Portal Mantas are common places where you can find food on the street at night. This is because many people move through here on their way to or from the many discotheques and bars in the area. Furthermore, while passing by you can contemplate the scintllating nocturnal beauty of the Plaza de Armas, the main square.
Mrs. Juana Choque is on the street every night, from 9 until perhaps 1 or 2 in the morning. Each evening she brings 70 to 75 tupperware containers of three different meals and sells each meal for 3.50 soles.
In the mornings she goes to the market to buy the ingredients and then from about five pm on she and her two children cook. Then just before she goes out, they put all the food, in equal portions, into the seventy five containers.
Many women like Mrs. Choque spend their days preparing food and their nights selling the home made stews and other dishes. Just when the cold settles down on the city, they are there to help people fight it off and get energy to continue with their jobs or fun at night in our Cuzco.