Cusco Peru City Market – Streetfood Mother Lode!
City Market a few blocks west of Plaza De Armas Cusco, Peru
During my vacation in Peru I probably ended staying in Cusco for about 8 days with about 5 of them used to acclimate to the high altitude before the hike up Machu Picchu, then a few more days relaxing/recovering before the rain forest excursion. While spending time in Cusco, I seriously scoured the city for some great local food. I was successful at finding a few non touristy places, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the local city market did I really hit the mother lode of local streetfood. It was simply the holy grail of local cuisine and I had found it at last. After finding this special culinary cache, I made it my priority to go back for lunch for 3 days straight in order to try out the various food stalls. The city market, as you know is where the locals buy their local necesities be it fresh meats, vegetables, fruits, dried goods, breads, or tailored clothing. But the city market is also a place to try out the freshest and cheapest meals in town. Some of the highlights that I checked out included the chicken soup stall or Sopa de Pollo – it’s freshly made and served with pasta and fresh vegetables. I paid about 5 soles or $1.75 for a large bowl. You can get an extra ladle called a ‘yappa’ for about a quarter. I also really enjoyed the fresh fruit stand where I got one of the most freshly made watermelon smoothies with oranges I’ve ever had. (Everything you hear about the freshness of the fruits and vegetables in South America is absolutely true.) One of my favorite food stands however was a fish and chicken stand where it was so popular, you basically had to fight for a seat on one of the crowded benches. I ordered a plate of breaded fried trout over a plate of rice with fries which also comes with a soup appetizer for a price of$7 soles or about $2.30. Everything again is freshly made and the fish is actually bought from the fish stall across the market. This city market in Peru has many similarities with the city markets and stalls I ran across when I was briefly living in Beijing. They both carry the same type of produce, meats and vegetables and feature amazing street food. It’s incredible how different the cultures are between Peruvians and the Chinese, yet the basic necessities found in stalls are virtually the same. Why, then is it so hard to find such equivalents in the USA? Ok there’s the Union Square Farmers Market but come on?!! My friend Tizoc made an interesting comment about this: people in Peru would pay more for the convenience of something that is processed and easy to drink (such as fresh orange juice) while in the USA, people would pay more for freshly squeezed organic orange juice. I’m sorry but I think the Peruvians got the better deal, don’t you think?