Monday, June 20, 2011

A Delight from mother earth: Pachamanca!

Pachamanca means "food from the earth" or alternatively “pot from earth”, and it is precisely in the earth or in the ground where the food for the Pachamanca is cooked. The cooking is based in hot rocks that are put in a round hole, which form a kind of a big pot underneath the ground. The food is wrapped in banana leaves so that it doesn’t get dirty.

This dish is prepared mainly in the mountains of Peru, but because of its popularity it can also be found in many cities, prepared in different country restaurants. These restaurants normally have a hand-made oven made in the ground, and the first step in the preparation is to heat the rocks with woods. At the same time, while the oven is getting warm, all the meats are macerated with species and wrapped in banana leaves. Also, some potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn are also wrapped to be cooked in the “oven”.

Once all the food is in the oven, it is all covered with more banana leaves to concentrate the heat, and from there, it takes from 50 to 90 minutes before the food is ready to eat! Once the food is ready, there is mostly a small ceremony (based on the tradition from pre-Inca times) where a leader thanks the mother earth for the food…….and after that all the cookers and helpers start to take out the food and unwrap it.

The food is typically served in the table in wooden pots if it is a familiar meal, but if it is in a restaurant, each person is served with one portion of each of the elements of the Pachamanca: chicken, pork, beef, potato, corn, sweet potato, beans, etc!

Also, in the table there is typically some cream chili, as it is a usual in Peru food, for those who wish to eat some of the Pachamanca with it.

So…..if you are coming to Peru, especially to some city in the mountains like Cuzco, Junin, Huaraz or Ancash you have to try the traditional Pachamanca! If that is not the case and you are going to be in a city in the coast, you only have to ask for a country restaurant there it is served so that you don’t miss it!

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