Cooking with Stones and Burying Your Food

Last weekend I went to the Andes region in Peru, to the city of Huancayo. There I encountered many customs that you might have never heard of and you might find interesting. I will share them with you in a few blog-posts. First of all, allow me to share the custom that brings the sweetest memories: Pachamanca. Pachawhat? The word is even foreign to me, as it isn’t Spanish. But Pachamanca is, in short, what the title of this blog-post says: cooking with stones and burying your food.

Pachamanca is a Quechua word literally meaning “Earth-pot” (pacha “earth” and manka “pot”). That is, Pachamanca is a dish cooked using hot stones and then buried under grass and dirt. Sounds yummy? Well, it actually is amazingly yummy. See, the stones are heated over a fire, and just like charcoal  give a nice different taste to your meat in a barbecue, so do the stones. Then there is the meat itself, which is fresh and as organic as you can possibly have it. It comes in the usual choices of lamb, pork, chicken, or guinea pig. The meet is beautifully seasoned and usually accompanied by sweet potato, potato,  lima beans, corn, tamale and humita.

If you still have doubts about how good this dish is, let’s just say it’s a classic in Andean cuisine. It’s been going on for about five thousand years, even much before than the Incas were around. So it’s safe to say that Pachamanca has stood the taste of time, and it’s becoming ever more popular. Though not as easily available in Lima due to the difficulties in its preparation, you can still find Pachamanca in many restaurants in Lima. While you are serving in one of our service programs in Lima, we recommend that you try cooking with stones and burying your food, or just have Pachamanca once it’s ready. Either way I guarantee you won’t regret it!

Cooking with Stones and Burying Your Food

Women in Huancayo preparing Pachamanca.

Cooking with Stones and Burying Your Food

The Pachamanca dish I tried in Huancayo. Sooo good!

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