Exploring A New Culture's Culinary Traditions

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Exploring another culture's culinary traditions can bring you closer to an authentic experience of that culture. Dive in!

CUSCO, Peru - As we strolled through the market just outside of Cusco's main square, we came to the food and restaurant section. In the back of the market area stood dozens of authentic food stands that served different variations of beef, chicken, rice, and eggs. Each giant plate cost the equivalent of 3 U.S. dollars, so we ate plenty of plates throughout our time in the city. But we missed one key dish: cuy.

Before arriving in Cusco, we were set on experiencing cuy, a traditional Andean guinea pig dish. Unfortunately, our shoestring food budget didn't allow us to taste the most expensive dish in the city (60 to 70 soles per plate), but we were able to have some grilled alpaca, which tasted like gamy steak.

We explored the marketplace every day in search of cuy; the market's corridors weaved in and out of different sections. We found the fruit smoothie section, where fresh fruits were blended right in front of us (without the use of water, much to the delights of our digestive systems). Eventually, we reached the butchers' area, where we saw full racks of ribs, legs of ham, and even pig heads for sale. As we strolled further through this area, we saw that every part of the pig, cow, and alpaca were for sale: the tongue, the eyes, the feet.

And then we saw it: full, skinned, guinea pig. Since we were staying at a hostel, we didn't have access to a grill, nor did we know how to cook cuy, so we didn't buy it. But experiencing the raw form in the butcher market brought us closer to authentic Andean culture. One more way that a culture's food can provide insight into that culture itself.


Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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