Food Culture, Traditional Food, Travel

The Best Corn Grows in Huayllabamba’s Enchanting Land

Ears of Famous White Corn

Among the Mountain Lords, the Apus, who in Pre-Hispanic times were the tutelary gods of these lands, was born a community called Huayllabamba, internationally considered the cradle of the best corn in the world.

Found in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, near the city of Cuzco, on the edge of the central Vilcanota River at 2800 meters above sea level, Huayllabamba’s geography consists of a range of diverse micro climates. These make it a singular center for agricultural development.

Increasingly tourists visit its enchanting pueblo, its rustic town. To be there is to be overwhelmed with the beauty of its joyous and shadowy landscape. It is not for nothing that it is known as “los layq’as”. This word is a local word for sorcerer or witch doctor with all the positive and engative implications of the term. People also call the residents of Huayllabmaba the Huato-Eaters. “Huato” means ties or bonds. The word is commonly used for shoelaces and other things that tie you down. They also call these things amarres, which means the same but generally is a word for a spell because the creation of a spell often involves tying you or someone to some fate. The true enchantments, though, are found in their beautiful women. They are famous throughout the Sacred Valley for being flirts and bewitching.

A Variety of Cuzco's Indigenous Corn
A Variety of Cuzco’s Indigenous Corn

One of the small communities that is part of Huallabamba, Urquillos, is considered the producer of the finest corn of the Sacred Valley. It is called paraccay, or the giant, white, Urubamba corn. They also produce the excellent yellow corn called uvima. The farmers of Urquillos have become the most important producers and exporters of the corn that has the greatest demand in Peru.

In Inca times, Huayllabamba was an obligatory stop for Inca dignitaries because the the great Inca highway, the Qapac Ñana passed through here.

Corn with Cheese
Corn with Cheese

When the Spanish invaded our territory the tended to settle in the most desirable places that Tawantinsuyo possessed. As a result, the Sacred Valley of the Incas was a very important place for Spanish settlement since its was the breadbasket of the region and had the finest soils, above all, for the cultivation of corn. This grain, not surprisingly, is the most prominent product in Huayllabamba.

The people of Huayllabamba preserve their culture through their ideology, folklore, and in their agriculture. Key to this is mink’a, also called “minga”. It is a tradition of community work where people come together to work lands in a festive atmosphere of music, food, and drink. They also conserve ayni, a system of reciprocal labor common among the households of Huayllabamba who help each other.

For those who wish to know Cuzco’s culture and heritage, Huayllabamba is an enchanting and useful stop.

Huayllabamba (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/562864)
Huayllabamba (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/562864)

 

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