Category Archives: Food

Cuenca Festival, Mon 1st Nov – Nov 3rd

Children celbrating

Festival time in Cuenca

In continuation…here’s a selection of events till Nov 3rd.  Last night I went to the Crafts fair in CIDAP at the bottom of the Escalinata where there are some beautiful quality crafts on display from artesan communities around Cuenca and also Peru and Colombia.


There is ‘Noche Cuencana’ every night in the main squares with music and fireworlks at 8pm on Mon and Tue.  There will be plenty going on in the Parque de la Madre, Barranco, Otorongo area until the 3rd.

Sunday Nov 1st

Events and Music

Family Painting – Puente Roto – 10am

Latin American Music concert with artists from various countries – Parque de la Madre – 3pm

Traditional dancing – Mall del Rio – 6pm

Night bike ride – El Barraco – 7pm

Fairs and Festivals

Guinea Pig Eating! (had to happen) – Don Bosco and Loja – all day

Local and International Food – 10 Aug Market – all day

Food, dogs and children’s games – Plaza San Francisco – all day

Festivals of Food and Dance – El Arenal – all day (dance 10am)

Extreme Sports – Parque de la Madre – till Nov 3


Toys Made of Recycled Materials – Mall del Rio- all day

Guitars by the Association of Guitar Makers of San Bartoome – Borrero 6-83 – 9am-7pm

Iconography of Art – Galeria de Arte Illescas (Av Solano)


‘Embanderamiento’, or putting up the flags – all over the city

Tuesday Nov 2nd

Events and Music

Festival of Chameleons – various artists and ballet – Parque Calderon – 7pm

Military Tattoo – Parque Calderon – 9am

Student Parade – San Blas to San Sebastian – 10am

Vallenato music night – Plaza de Toros Santa Ana – 8pm

Football match: Cholas vs Clowns – Parque Paraiso – 10am (also on Wed)

Festivals and Fairs

Gastronomic – Parque de Miraflores – all day

Clothes market – 27 Feb Market – all day to 3rd

Agroecological Fair – Parque de San Blas – all day

Arts and crafts and puppet show – Plaza Rotary – all day till Nov 3


Open Day at army barracks in Tarqui – near Via a Banos – 9am-5pm

Flower arranging competition – 9 Oct Market – 10am

Tasting of foods of Ecudaor – Parque de la Madre – 10am

Wednesday Nov 3rd

Events and Music

Military Parade – Solano – 9am

Latin american music concert – Parque Calderon and Glorieta – 2pm

National competition of wooden vehicles – Larga and Malo to Parque Paraiso – 3pm

Election of Chola Cuencana (beauty pagent) – Parque Miraflores – 3pm

Donkey race – Larga and Malo to Parque Paraiso – 4pm


Mass and floral offerings – Cathedral – 8am

Folk dancing and parade of children’s fashions – 27 Feb Market – 10am


Cuenca Festival

Everyone in Cuenca, including the toddlers in my son’s nursery, is hopping in anticipation of a few days off and a whole slew of free festive events to celebrate 190 years of Cuenca independence.

Here’s just a small selection of the huge range of bizarre, big, small, traditional and downright wacky events going on in the city.

Friday 29th Octoberr


Handicrafts exhibition –  CIDAP  – throughout the festival

Open House of Alternative Medicine – Remigio Crespo 2-33 – 9am

Art and Sculpture Outside –  Puente Rot0 – throughout the festival.

Festivals and Fairs

Festival of food and folclore – Plaza Santo Domingo – from 9am

Jewellery Fair – Borerro and Munoz


The Subregional Building for Vaccines

Hector’s BBQ Grill, near Mall del Rio

Music and Shows

1812 Overture with fireworks,  and cannons? – Parque Calderon – 8pm

Club night: ‘I love 80s and 90s’ – Quinta Balzay – from 8pm

Other events

Multicolored lights illuminating Barranco  – till Nov 5th

Saturday 30th October

Festivals and Fairs

Gastronomic – 12 Abril and Agusto Cueva

Of the ‘active neighbourhood’: dancing, workshops, games, clowns, shows from the schools – Parque Miraflores – 2pm-6pm

Traditional games – Plaza Chagurarchibamba

Music and Events

Marching bands.  All over the center of the city from 9am

Police display incl acrobatic gymnastics on horses – Estadio Alejandro Serrano Aguilar – 10am

Rock Bands   – Coleseum – 4pm

Cinema: ‘Prometo Deportado’ – Teatro Sucre – 8pm

10km Night Run – From Parque el Paraiso – 7pm


WiFi in the bus station

Sunday 31st Octoberr


Display of wooden cars, painted cars and classic cars – Mercado 3 Nov – 10am

Art in the Park – Parque de la Madre – 3pm

Festivals and Fairs

Festival of BBQ meat – Parque Maria Auxiladora – 9am

Dog Show – Parque Paraiso -10-12am

Music and Events

Classic bike competition – Mall del Rio

Traditional Dance Display – Av 3 Nov – 3pm

Tripi Tripi: Electronic Club Night – Quinta Balzay – from 8pm

Festival of Pyrotechnics and ‘Acts’ – around Otorongo Bridge- from 9pm

Noche Cuencana: music, fireworks etc – Various Plazas in Center 8pm

.. More to come including

Festival of Guinea Pigs, Queen of Cuenca, Extreme Sportsog Show…

Peruvian Drinks for Visitors

Chicha Morada

Chicha Morada


This name covers a multitude of sins.  There’s the innocent chicha morada – a favorite of Peruvian children made with the distinctive purple maize and pineapple skins.

Then there’s the kind drunk in fields, festivals and villages all over Peru.  This mildly alcoholic drink was traditionally fermented by being chewed in the mouth and then spat out into the mixture.  Now the maize is generally just fermented over days in large urns.

If you visit a rural family you are likely to be offered some chicha, probably out of a shared jerry can.  Beware, it can be tough on the stomach if you are not used to it.  Look out for bamboo poles outside houses holding blue or red plastic bags – these indicate that chicha is on sale.  (white bags  mean bread for sale).

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

Pisco is a spirit made of distilled grapes.  It is produced along the south coast of Peru and it is worth visiting a vineyard to see the production process if you are in the Ica area.  The battle over the origin preferred home of the pisco cocktail, Pisco Sour, is hotly debated between Peru and Chile.

The drink is best prepared fresh and consist of lemon, sugar, egg white – and of course the pisco.  The classic place to try out the sour is the Gran Hotel Bolivar in Lima.

It’s so cool – even heavy metal bands drink it.

Coca Tea

Why drink coca tea?  It’s true that it’s a slightly bitter,  acquired taste but its benefits are indisputable at altitude. Added to which, you can’t drink it at home so…

Inka Cola

Where else could the name of the majestic and powerful Incas be given to the name of bottles of bright yellow, bubble gum flavor pop.   This drink used to out-sell Coca Cola – until the giant bought into the company to the tune of 49%!


Go to any good-sized market in Peru and head for the juice selection.  There you will find rows of brisk- looking women ready to take you to fresh fruit juice heaven for less than a dollar.

Tell them your troubles and they are sure to have a bizarre concoction to fix it.  Ingredients might include cactus leaves, beer, oats, herbs and maca (found in Viagra).


5 Foods to try in Peru because they’re odd

1.        Guinea pig. Guinea Pig

It has to be done; on any trip to the Andes you will be expected to eat come home having sampled some guinea pig.  The sight of the little creature, ready-roasted and lying on your plate with its feet in the air, however, might not be too appetizing.  Just remember that guinea pigs, or cuy, are not just another source of meat for local people.  The symbolism of eating cuy goes back centuries and, to this day, you will often find the creatures running around rural kitchens, waiting for a special occasion or festival for them to be eaten.

Different areas cook their cuy in different ways, so if you don’t like the taste in Cusco,  you’ll be told that the recipe is Huaraz is sure to be more to your taste.  My recommendation is to have it roasted (al horno). If you don’t like the cuy, the potatoes are always good.

Click here to read an account of eating cuy (in Ecuador).

2.       Alpaca steak

It’s a steak, its made of alpaca and its very good.  Well worth trying.

3.       PachamancaPachamanca oven

To try one of these you will have to get out of town and up in to the mountains.  A pachamanca is a feast of meats, potatoes and other tubers cooked in a makeshift oven made of soil and stones.  The name itself means pan of the earth in Quechua, and is an ingenious way of preparing a feast high in the mountains.

First,  stones are heated, then seasoned meat and vegetables are wrapped in leaves and placed inside the stones.  The whole ‘oven’ is then sealed up completely with leaves, soil, grasses and whatever is available.  After an hour or so, you essentially have to smash up the oven to get at the food inside.  If your timing is right, you have a delicious smoked meal.  These meals are an integral part of village life intended to share with other members of the community.

4.       Freeze dried potatoes

Another ingenious food from the mountains is freeze dried potatoes.  You can often find these grey crumbly potatoes in your soups and their ‘invention’ is vital for starving off hunger in periods between potato harvests.  Chuňo, as they are known,  are made by simply leaving the potatoes out in the biggest freezer of all: the Andean night.  Later,  the moisture is squeezed out or dries out in the sun.  Way before we had freezers, the people of the Andes knew that a frozen potato lasts longer!

More about potatoes

5.  Anticucho



Beef hearts barbequed on a skewer – a firm favorite of Peruvians everywhere.  If you see a crowd of people gathering around a grill on their way home from work – it’s the anticucho they are after.  If you can stomach it, there’s no better way of becoming a local than chomping down an anticucho on the street.

NB Images from:  Pachamanca –, Anticucho