Food Culture, Traditional Food

Traditional Stoves, Fogones, Give Cuzco’s Food Great Flavor

Raised Fogón in a Traditional Restaurant in Cuzco

To cook these days people in cities tend to rely on stoves that are marvels of technical design. They allow people to cook quickly and without much effort. This is very different from the rural communities of Peru where people tend not to have this kind of stove.

Instead they use a traditional fogón which is Spanish for “big fire” or better “controlled fire”. These are also called conchas, from the Quechua term qoncha. This is a tradition that has been maintained from early times and has its own technical expertise. With these people practice the art of using firewood to cook which imparts to the food a special, incomparable taste and delicious scent.

There are different kinds of fogones. Some are more rustic than others, using only two or three adobes. Others are more elaborate, using adobe and clay to make walls for the fogón. By using the clay, people give the fogones a finer finish. There are also fogones made with more genius and labor that come in two different levels. The second level is higher and more comfortable, as a result, for the person who is cooking. The lower level is used more for raising guinea pigs who feel happy being near the heat.

Lawa de Maíz, Fresh Corn Chowder, Made on a Fogón
Lawa de Maíz, Fresh Corn Chowder, Made on a Fogón

Many people are drawn to the taste of food made on these fogones. Even though it might be difficult to believe, one can use the same ingredients, the same process, but the difference of flavor between the food from a modern stove and from a fogón is amazing. It is hard to figure out why, but the taste of food made on a wood fired fogon allows no comparison. For this reason, the art of cooking over a fogón is now used in some restaurants in order to attract clients. The fogón imparts the true flavor of Andean food prepared in a traditional style. This is our ancestral heritage.

Multilevel Fogón in a Private Home in Cuzco
Multilevel Fogón in a Private Home in Cuzco

 

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