Friday, June 01, 2007

orenji on the road: the markets in cusco, peru

We continue our series of 'orenji on the road' blogs about our recent trip to Peru and Bolivia with a pictorial essay on the fresh food markets in Cusco, Peru.

Cusco (Cuzco in Spanish, and Qusqu in Quechua-- the native language of the region) was the ceremonial capital of the Inca Empire. Located near the Sacred Valley of the Incas, all roads led to Cusco. Following Spanish arrival in Peru, most of the Inca temples were "replaced" with Spanish-style Cathedrals, although reminders of the empire remain. At 11,500 feet, Cusco is now a bustling town rich in history and tourism. Many tourists planning on hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Machu Picchu spend some time in Cusco prior to that trek. (Below, the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, at night).

The markets in Cusco were busy, crowded places with countless stalls selling all the local culinary ingredients one could ever want. An endless supply of fruits, meats, vegetables, potatoes, grains, legumes, cheeses, and packaged foods were spread out in bins or on blankets waiting to be purchased. It was quite an incredible shopping experience-- overwhelming to the senses, but enjoyable nonetheless. We took many pictures, and present some of them in this blog.

A general shot of the market, taken from the entrance:

We call this one "meat and potatoes..."

Various meats for sale:

Fresh juices made to order:
Grains and legumes:

Delicious colorful fruits for sale:

Outside the market, more vegetables for sale:

You can even by cloth and textiles at the market!

Fresh cheeses for sale:

Depending on who you ask, Peru has between hundreds and thousands of indigenous varieties of potatoes. Some of them are quite colorful, whereas others look like a typical Idaho spud...

And of course, no talk of Peru would be complete without mentioning the corn. Peruvian corn is large-kerneled. Huge, in fact. The kernels are approximately four to five times larger than the sweet yellow or white corn eaten regularly in the United States. Peruvian corn is sweeter, starchier, and chewier... and is frequently eaten as a snack, purchased from street vendors. The corn sold is generally boiled or steamed, and served with a slice of fresh cheese. As the ears of corn are so large, it is quite a substantial snack-- filling and satisfying!

Only a few more posts left to come recounting our adventures in Peru and Bolivia. Keep checking back for a review of Peruvian bebidas (beverages), and a photo essay of some scenic highlights of the trip!

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