Cusco is beautiful and there are a lot you can do there as well as in nearby areas. One of the places you should definitely include is the bustling market of Central Mercado de San Pedro, where you get to feel the heart of the city.
To prepare your senses, here are some distinctive and exotic finds you can find in the market.
A hodgepodge of fresh and exotic foods
Look for the unique Peruvian corn variety which are available in black and purple colors. Locals are fond of eating it as a snack. The purple corn is also a source of the delicious and aromatic chicha morada juice, mixed with some spices and pineapple.
Fresh coca leaves are readily available as well to provide its medicinal and soothing benefits. It’s usually prepared as a tea concoction although quite a few munch on it raw. It is eaten raw as a remedy for altitude sickness; you need to grab a pack of it before you head on to your mountain expedition just in case you’ll need it.
The herbal remedy guy is also a popular source of traditional medicinal needs. Folks go to him for any illnesses. He will then prepare an herb concoction that is sure to relieve the discomfort.
Other distinctive Peruvian herbs being sold are the dragon blood or Sangre de Grago which is a sap from an Amazonian tree used to soothe arthritis. There are pickled snakes as well that aew used for medicinal purposes.
Not for the faint of heart, the wet section is also very interesting, as you will find a numerous display of freshly butchered donkey or horse heads and animal innards, cow’s snouts, trout roe, and live frogs. These can be cooked right before your eyes and you can eat on the spot.
Grab and eat — Peruvian food to go
If you want to have a quick breakfast, Mercado de San Pedro is the best place for fast but fresh and palatable food choices.
Start off with the mouthwatering bread collection including the traditional Andean bread. It perfectly matches the variety of cheeses available there; just add plump, fresh olives to make a scrumptious sandwich. Chase it down with a cup of hot dark chocolate.
The infamous Peruvian dish, cuy, comes ready-to-eat and grilled not just for your grumbling tummy, but to fill your curiosity with this exotic food as well.
If you’re longing for some warmth in a cold morning rush to the market, a steaming bowl of soup is the best thing you can have for a starter. Try their popular frog soup or their chicken noodle soup. For a tastier soup, order one with a jawbone in it. Boiled varieties of eggs can also be a quick filler with boiled quail eggs amongst the visitors’ favorite.
Unique Peruvian souvenirs
You can bring home some of the folkloric tales of Peru by purchasing unique Peruvian items. There are whole dried llamas that are being sold in the market which the natives used as an offering to Pachamama. The dried cadaver is buried into the soil before building the foundation of a new house.
A ceramic bull is used as a symbol of Incan entity and placed on rooftops for good luck.
Aside from these unusual products that you seldom see in your country or in any of your travels, there is a myriad of choices to splurge on at the market. From tropical fruits and candies, to vegetables, textiles, and other dry goods, the Central Mercado de San Pedro is indeed an interesting place to visit in Cusco.