Juicy, Savory and Tender: Kankacho from Ayaviri in Cusco

A delicate delight is felt from your fingers to your teeth when you try good Ayaviri kankacho in Cusco. In our city, Doña Julia’s is the most recognized place by people from the south and by local lovers of meat. It has three restaurants in different parts of the city. At the same time it is recognized in Arequipa, Puno, Ayaviri, and Juliaca where you can enjoy a delicious kankacho.

Some friends and I went in one of the restaurants, the one on Av. Micaela Bastidas 513, almost by accident, to try the kankacho.  Our first impression of the place was good. In the doorway, to the side of its sign, a kankacho, wrapped in paper, sugar bags, and colorful queperinas, awaited. It told us that in this place is served the typical and tasty dish of Ayaviri—a town on the high altiplano.

On the first floor, where all the orders are filled, you find an intense scent of deliciously roated meat. It is well lit and decorated with posters and images of the kankacho and of the place’s owner, Doña Juli together with well-known personages from television.

The second floors’ walls are filled with giant posters that have images of the owner with Perú’s recognized chef Gastón Acurio and with former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, as well as many artists. Tables and chairs fill the space.

Once situated around out table, Walter, Edwin and I began to talk about the dish.  We asked each other if we had tried it before and how long ago.

Walter said, “I remember some years ago I was traveling between Puno and Cusco by bus. I remember the area of Ayaviri well. The bus stopped there to take on passengers.  In the short time we were waiting for the new people to get on and get their belonging situated, several enchanting ladies got on and quickly began selling.  They shouted out, ‘Kankacho Ayavireño, Kankacho Ayavireño calientito. De 10 a 5 soles el plato.’  The passengers who were on the bus and especially those at my side began to buy it as if it were very special.”

“People said the dish could not be equaled. I bought some because seeing their food made me want to try it. It is basically sheep’s ribs and cuts of mutton baked in an oven.  It is accompanied by baked huairo potatoes. I thought it enchanting because it had a flavor that leaves you thrilled and in pleasure. Afterwards I looked forward to another chance to have it again.”

It is a custom while traveling to run into these delicacies.  Something is offered at every stop in Peru.

Kankacho Ayavireño
Kankacho Ayavireño

Not long afterward a waiter came, bringing us three portions of kankacho. They were served in small baskets lined with butter-colored paper. In each there were three pieces of oven baked mutton along with two potatoes and a moraya (white freeze-dried potato). At the table you could smell the tempting aroma. The waiter also gave us knife and fork, as well as green hot sauce.

The first bites made us very happy. Walter said, “I like how tender the meat is and especially how it combines with the potatoes and the green aji (hot sauce).” Edwin’s was also pleased with the flavor and tried to tease out the tastes of the different seasonings that were added to the meat.

It was good.  Not long afterwards I realized we were not eating with out knife and fork, but ith our fingers.  That is how good it was. We had a great time eating our kankacho ayavireño.

Doña Julia now has branches in much of the country where people can go and become acquainted with the pleasures of the land where she was born, Ayaviri.

Her food has been honored on many occasions. Kankacho was recognized as one of the best dishes in the great gastronomic festival Mixtura. There kankacho pleased the great number of people who attended.



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