Traditional Food

Locro de Zapallo, a Traditional Squash Stew, Warms Many a Day

What shall I cook? That is a question posed by all homemakers, whatever their gender, as well as restaurant chefs who have to prepare every day a different fixed lunch. In an interview with people in charge of preparing the menu, the fixed lunch, in different restaurants we were told that the most complicated task they faced was not the cooking but deciding what to cook for that pesky, obligatory fixed course lunch.

You might ask why there should be these difficulties given the great quantity of dishes that we have in Cusco from which people can choose. It probably occurs because people are used to eat a lot of fried food and that is why many restaurants simply repeat the same dishes even as often as three times in the same week: Rice with fried meat; fried chicken (pollo dorado); and fried, breaded chicken milanesa. These are among the most common dishes you will find on lunch menus in Cuzco.

At home it is quite different. Home keepers have not gotten their children used to only enjoying dishes with fried foods. They teach them toe at everything. For that reason they do not have to worry as much about what to prepare, other tan making a choice.

Zapallo - Squash (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Zapallo – Squash (Walter Coraza Morveli)

One of the dishes that always pleases at home and is seldom prepared in restaurants despite its wonderful flavor, is the locro de sapallo (winter squash stew). This dish is highly nutritious and has a delicious flavor. It is made from zapallo, Cuzco’s traditional large, winter squash which is a lot like a gray hubbard, with a few other ingredients, such as milk, potatoes, and sometimes kernels of corn. It is always served with our white rice.

This traditional dish from the city of Cusco has been loosing preference slowly, perhaps because many people no longer know a good recipe in order to make it up as it should be. In what follows we give you a recipe for making a perfect zapallo loco



. Zapallo (a hard winter squash such as hubbard)

. Canchan potatoes

. Milk

. Tarwi (a lupine also called lupini beans)

. Mormontoy (an edible bacteria in balls from Cuzco available during the rainy season)

. Cheese

. Onion

. Garlic

. Cumin

. Pepper

. Fresh corn

. Oil

. Rice

. A sprig of Huacatay


Peel and dice the squash in medium sized cubes. Do the same with the potato. Wash the reconstituted tarwi and peel it. Now dice the onion in small squares and then heat the oil in a pan. When it is ready lightly brown the garlic and then the onions. Once they are a light gold add the cumin and the pepper. Then add two cups of boied water and immediately put in the potatoes, the squash, and the fresh corn kernels, as well as the huacatay and a tablespoon of salt (warning salt in Cuzco is less salty than in the US; you might want to add less and taste). Boil for ten minutes. Add the tarwi, the mormontoy, and the white cheese also diced into cubes. Boil for two minutes more. Once it is ready remove it from the flame and add the milk. It is now ready to be served along with white rice.




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