8,000 YEAR-OLD BARBECUE STYLE – Ancient Inca Food in Peru!


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Pachamanca is an underground hot stone oven style of cooking from the Andes mountain regions of South America.

There is evidence that humans in the region have been cooking pachamanca for over 8,000 years, and it was a common way Inca’s prepared food as well! It was a huge honor to have this opportunity to have a traditional, no shortcuts, pachamanca when I was visiting Cusco, Peru.

From Cusco, Peru, it was about an hour drive. We met with Julio, the leader of the small Quechua community, and he brought us to the village, high in the mountains, and an incredibly beautiful place. We were immediately met by the amazing community, beautiful people, who welcomed us in and showed us their immense hospitality.

The first step in prepared in a pachamanca is heating hot stones, but they have to set up the stones in an absolutely genius stone structure in order to build a fire and heat the rocks. They showed us the entire process as I watched in awe. The rocks must be heated for 4 – 5 hours before they are ready to cook.

When the pachamanca was heated and ready, they first tossed on the variety of potatoes, then the meat (including alpaca) which was marinated in spices and wakatay (Peruvian black mint), then layers of rocks, fava beans, and then covered the entire pachamanca with an herb to seal it in. Finally they covered it with earth to seal in all the smoke and steam. It was astounding and beautiful to see them as they prepared the entire pachamanca, an ancient Peruvian cooking tradition.

Moraya – Ancient Inca technique of freeze drying potatoes – In addition to the pachamanca, they also made a soup made with moraya, an Inca technique of free drying potatoes to preserve them. The soup was delicious, and so warming.

The pachamanca was absolutely delicious, all the ingredients sort of steamed and roasted at the same time. Some of the ingredients were charred from the hot stones, which added to the incredible flavor. And along with the delicious food, the experience of being able to watch them load and unload the pachamanca, was something I’ll never forget.

What is the significance of the pachamanca in Peruvian culture?

Peru, a country rich in cultural heritage, boasts one of the most diverse and unique cuisines in the world. From the coastal ceviche to the spicy chifa dishes, Peruvian cuisine offers a blend of indigenous and foreign flavors that is sure to tantalize the taste buds of any food enthusiast. One of the most ancient yet still prevalent styles of cooking in Peru is the Inca barbecue or pachamanca.

The pachamanca, which is Quechua for “earth pot,” dates back to around 6,000 BC during the pre-Inca period. A pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian barbecue that involves burying a variety of marinated meats, vegetables, and potatoes in a pit covered with hot rocks and soil. It is a communal style of cooking that usually involves several families coming together to prepare and share this traditional meal.

The pachamanca is believed to have originated in the Andean highlands of Peru where the Incas revered the earth or pacha mama as sacred. The dish became a spiritual ritual that was meant to honor the earth and thank it for the bountiful harvest. It was also a way for the Incas to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, births, and harvest festivals.

The preparation of a pachamanca involves several steps. Firstly, a deep pit is dug and lined with hot rocks. Next, the meats and vegetables are marinated with herbs and spices and placed on top of the hot rocks. More hot rocks are added on top of the food, and the pit is covered with soil to seal in the heat. The food is then left to cook for several hours until it is tender and fragrant. The cooking process infuses the food with a smoky flavor and gives it a unique texture that is hard to replicate with any other cooking method.

A typical pachamanca includes a variety of meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and lamb, as well as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and fava beans. The dish is typically served with a spicy ají sauce and chicha, a fermented corn drink that is a staple in the Andean region.

Today, the pachamanca remains an important part of Peruvian culture and cuisine. It is a dish that is often served in traditional restaurants and is also a popular choice for outdoor events and celebrations. The pachamanca is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the ancient Incas, who used the earth’s natural elements to create a delicious and nourishing meal that has stood the test of time.

In conclusion, the pachamanca is an 8,000 year-old barbecue style that continues to be an integral part of Peruvian cuisine. Its unique cooking process and smoky flavor make it a must-try dish for any food lover visiting Peru. The pachamanca is not just a dish, but it is also a representation of Peruvian traditions and culture, and a reminder of the rich history that surrounds the country.

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