A Celebration of Bread in Oropesa, Tanta Raymi
While a gigantic chuta bread, five meters wide, was at the center, the celebration of the twentieth Tanta Raymi in the district of Oropesa, Cuzco, it included as well theatrical presentations, dances, competitions, and lots of fun.
One hour from the city of Cuzco, Oropesa is known as the national capital of bread. The reality of that designation is demonstrated each year in October when the ovens prepare to make the famous and exquisite chuta bread which, with their flavor captivate and attract multitudes of people to participate in and enjoy their baking
The theatrical presentation of the chuta bread making begins on the sacred mountain Mutu who is the tutelary Apu, or Lord, who protects the population of Oropesa. Early in the morning, the Inca with his Royal entourage and representatives of the four sections (suyus) of the Inca Empire climbed up Apu Mutu to greet him, render homage, and ask permission to carry out this important event. With waving flags of Tawantinsuyo they came down the mountain to the esplanade to carry out the consecration of corn. They paid homage to the Pachamama, the mother earth, and to the Tata Inti, the father sun, to begin to elaborate the sanku, which was a type of bread without leavening and made with corn that was eaten in the important ceremonies of Tawantinsuyo, the Inca Empire.
When the Spanish invaded Peru, they also brought wheat which they ordered be cultivated. The theatralization of bread demonstrated for us the making of dough and the baking of bread. With the passage of time the people of Oropesa make bread even better, they say, than the bread of Spain. It is called pan chuta, a thick and soft bread that is mildly sweet. When the theater was finished and the gigantic bread made, it was divided up and served to all present. Everyone enjoyed with pleasure this exquisite bread.
Some years ago the celebration of Tanta Raymi was carried out in the main plaza of Oropesa. Tourists could visit the ovens where the daily bread is made, watch it being made, and enjoy a different experience from the current pageant. Now, the activity is carried out in a large space where all the ovens and bread makers of the city have small stands to show off the variety of breads they make as well as the giant bread, five meters in diameter, for everyone to taste. Walking around the place we enjoyed the different flavors of bread, one by one, from the various stands. These included anise flavored bread, regilla bread, bread with coffee, chuta bread, and the famous bread babies and bread horses that have so much demand as October rolls into November.
Every stand was decorated in a similar fashion with some of their well prepared breads as well as hostesses dressed in beautiful dresses of mestizas which characterize this town. They would offer bread of all flavors and varieties and more to all passersby. Each stand also had an image of their Holy Patron Dt. Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of bakers. They decorated him with offerings of different breads and flours. All the ovens and bread makers also participated in a competition to see who made the beast chuta bread this year as well as for the best decorated stand. The contest was sponsored by Vitoria and Alicorp, makers of flour. They provided awards of sacks of flour and money.
For this festival gastronomy was also present. Delicious typical and popular dishes of the region were served such as roast cuy, merienda uchu, chiriuchu, chicharrón, tallarín al horno con pollo, caldo de gallina, and the drink of the gods which is chicha. In order to bring in more spectators and to enjoy the presentations to the fullest musical groups were also presented to make more pleasant the event and to make the visitors dance. In this way we experienced the Festival of Bread in Oropesa this year, the land of the exquisite chuta bread. Though we enjoy their bread every day, this event made the bread seem an even larger aspect of our lives.