At the highland head of a valley that drops towards the Amazon and as an economic crossroads Cuzco is graced with an abundance of fresh fruit year round. Many different varieties and forms arrive constantly, depending on the climate in the zone they come from. But one thing that is true: fresh fruit is never lacking in the city of Cuzco.
During the months of February and March we have a particular abundance of fruit. Temperate climate fruit that we do not see with this abundance the rest of the year arrive in big truckloads. One of these is the pear.
The pears grow in a temperate and humid climate. They come to us from what we call the “ceja de montaña” (the eyebrow of the mountain) the area where the jungle diminishes as it encounters the cold grasslands of the high country. Such areas of the provinces of Pisaq, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, all centered in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, send them to us.
Pears have a delicate flavor and a varying character and texture. They come in a whole range of colors when they are ripe, such as yellow, yellow and green, green, reddish, and more. Some are large and some are small. Some have flavor that cannot be equaled and some are more ordinary.
We can mention varieties such as the following two found in the markets of Cuzco.
There are the peras de agua (water pears). We call them this because they tend to be very juicy and delicious. And there is the pera común (common pear. These are fleshy but not quite so juicy. There are also pears that are both delicious and juicy.
When I was a boy I would play with my friends. We liked to pick pears from the trees. We were good at shimmying up trees, but even so we could not alway reach the biggest pears because they were on the highest branches.
But we had skills. With good aim and a few pebbles we could knock them down. It was fun. Then we would gather in a circle to share the pears and enjoy eating them.
Anyway, during the months when pears come one kids are out of school on vacation. Many of them gather in groups of six and compete to gather this fruit and others that ripen at the same time.
Pears are not only eaten fresh, they find a palce in our gastronomy. For example we make stewed pears, marmelades, fruit salads. And we eat them as deserts and also as table fruit. Children really love them because of the delicious and juicy flavor.