Peruvian Food

Pulses Thrill Cusqueños Year Round

Many foods are found in the city of Cuzco which we can only enjoy fully in their season, such as fresh corn and frozen potatoes. They appear in our markets and our tables only at certain times of the year. Just like these, there are more that people look forward to. The arrival of their season makes people happy.

Then again we also have foods which are found year round, such as our delicious beans and peas. These nourishing pulses find themselves for sale in every one of the city’s markets and many stores. There are various kinds of legumes we eat.

They come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Their names in our Spanish are pallares (what you would call lima beans after Peru’s capital city), frejoles or beans (what the Mexicans call frijoles). We also have lentejas (lentils) and panamitos (black-eyed peas). You will find these and more in our markets, each in their own bag from which the caseras dish them out to sell by weight.

Beans and Other Pulses for Sale (Walter Coraza Marvel)
Beans and Other Pulses for Sale (Walter Coraza Marvel)

In the Mercado of San Pedro, on the corner of the bread section, you will find a woman who every days sells a delicious plate of beans accompanied by fluffy rice, a piece of fish, and a refreshing salad of onion and tomato. This casera is very well known. She has many fixed clients who come daily to enjoy her delicious food. She has been making it for years. She sells a plate of food for 3.50 S/ (a bit more than one American dollar).

You could say that lentils and frejoles (beans) are the pulses that are most consumed in Cuzco. We call them menestras. Many homes and restaurants prepare them up frequently for lunch. Each one has its own recipes for making them and dishing them up. Some will prepare the lentils accompanied by a white rice and a fried egg while other add a pork steak or fried fish. Beans also go on the side of various other foods.

These delicious menestras are always ready for you to prepare, any day of the week. You do not have to wait for their season to roll around. You just need a bit of imagination to determine what you are going to combine them with the make something wonderful. In this way you enrich your palate.

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