Peruvian Connection Markets of Peru Newsletter
Peruvian market days were first established under the rule of the Inca Pachakuti in the 15th century. There were 3 official market days, called catus, held each month. At these catus, citizens of the Inca Empire heard official decrees and exchanged their surplus goods.

When the Spaniards arrived, the local market days were changed to Sunday, in hopes of luring the Indians to the Catholic mass. To this day many Andean markets take place on Sunday. Native Quechua Indians still call markets catus and women market vendors are called cateras.

In addition to the local market days, there are permanent marketplaces called mercados. Here the locals eat, drink, barter, buy, sell, socialize and feud, in an environment very like a supermarket and department store rolled into one. Mercado stalls sell everything from magical herbs to flowers, from dye stuffs to coca leaves, from fruit and vegetables to pots and pans.

Handicraft markets feature Native crafts that are typically unique to the region. The market at Pisaq, near Cuzco, is renowned for its array of handicrafts on the market days of Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.


In Inca society, corn was mostly grown for beer making and for holiday and ritual use. The first corn planting took place in August and September and was performed by the Inca emperor himself. Corn was considered a high status crop, while potatoes were the staple food.

Corn on the cob is called choclo. Andean corn has much larger kernels than U.S. corn, and the ears are juicy and sweet. First domesticated in Mexico, its cultivation spread to the Andes where it thrived. Corn was the third most important crop in the Inca world-potatoes and quinua were better adapted to higher altitudes-but at least 20 varieties of corn are grown today in Peru.

A fermented corn beer known as chicha has been enjoyed in Peru since the time of the Incas. Chicha is usually made from sprouted corn, but is sometimes made from quinua, grapes, bananas or other fruits. The Indians spill a little chicha on the ground as an offering to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) before drinking. Chicha morada is a non-alcoholic version of the drink made from purple corn.

Recipe from The Art of Peruvian Cuisine by Tony Custer.
Choclo José Antonio
From José Antonio's, one of the most well-loved traditional restaurants in Lima.

6 ears corn on the cob (unhusked)
1 T. sugar
10 T. butter
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 level tsp. freshly ground pepper
juice of 5 key limes

Place ears of corn without removing husks or silk into a large pot of cold water with the sugar and juice of 2 key limes. Bring to a boil and cook until the husk is soft and the kernels tender-about 10 minutes after the water has come to a rolling boil.

To make the sauce:
In a small heavy pan over low heat melt the butter, taking care that it doesn't burn. Add salt, pepper and remaining lime juice and stir well.

Drain the ears of corn and remove husks and silk.

Serve immediately, bathed in the warm butter sauce. May also be eaten with a spoon: shell the kernels from the cob after cooking and mix with the sauce.

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