Thursday, April 28, 2011

an earthenware bowl

an earthenware bowl
of sopa de kinwa y choclo
with mate de coca

Peruvians have a genuine ethnic cuisine based on many indigenous ingredients. Everything has a distinct, delicious flavor. Maybe it's the soil combined with organic farming. The midday meal begins with sopa, followed by salada, then the main course and dessert. At this restaurant in Pisaq, the soup is made with kinwa and choclo, and we can choose mate de coca or fresh lemonade. Kinwa (quinoa), choclo (a type of maize), and coca were all considered sacred by the Inkas, who used them in their ceremonies, and they are still used in this manner by indigenous Andeans. The word kinwa means "moon" in Quechua, and the cooked seeds do look like little moons and crescents. The Inkas called it chisaya mama, "the mother of grains." The Inka emperor traditionally sowed the first seeds of the season using a gold implement. The Spanish conquistadors forbade the cultivation of quinoa due to its association with non-Christian ceremonies. Technically a seed, it has more protein than any grain. Gluten free, it is easy to digest and has a nutty flavor. Choclo has large pale yellow kernels. Very popular boiled on the cob, it also has a nutty flavor. Mate de coca is made from coca leaves. Indigenous people chew the leaves as a stimulant, forming a wad in the cheek. Everyone in Peru consumes it as a tea, which tastes like green tea, slightly bitter. It is held to be especially beneficial to health altitudes, so we drink a lot of mate de coca.

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