Here I am still talking about ‘Breakfast In Peru’. It is not easy to write about this country and refrain from mentioning its food. Food is not only a living necessity it is a soul thing and if you are lucky as I was you get to share the soulful moments with others who appreciate its worth.
I volunteered my services at The Coffee Tree in return for some food and the opportunity to improve my Spanish and most importantly to make friends. We started our mornings there cleaning and preparing for the day ahead as customers started to trickle in ordering their tea’s and coffees and breakfasts. Local Inca women wearing exquisitely designed customary dress would pop in with some organic fruit or vegetables for sale. And local men called to see if newspapers were wanted or perhaps some extra bottles of beer.
When at last the place had quietened down it was time for the workers to have their breakfast. There was variety of breakfast provided for the workers now and then but the most staple of these was a tasty soup. It was served in wide bowls, with tiny pasta shapes, lots of organic vegetables and well seasoned stock. Sometimes you would find a piece of a chicken or goat or cow in the mixture, just a little. A Peruvian dish is not complete without some form of chilli sauce freshly blended, the one we commonly ate was called ‘aji’ which was made from ‘cilantro’ a spicy pepper/chilli (I am not up on my classifications of these vegetables yet).
One day just as our breakfast started to appear through the kitchen hatch finding its way to our table, a traveling couple reviewed the menu trying to decide what their appetite required. ‘What is that over there?’ they asked curiously. I replied that it was the breakfast for the workers. One of them decided, ‘we’ll have that, it looks great.’ I explained that it was not on the menu and only enough was prepared for the workers. They were really disappointed but in fairness i did ask just to make sure. It was not possible that day but I did inform the owner that this was not the first time I had encountered this reaction from tourists.
The guys at the Coffee Tree certainly worked hard and this was a great treat. As I sat and ate my breakfast soup with my Peruvian friends I realised how envious I was spied by other tourists who passed through. ‘Ah, only special people get to have this food,’ one tourist teased me gently.
We ate in silence with amusing glances now and then, gazing out at the immaculate blue sky, the busy square and the nearby rocky hills with their inca ruins. Second helpings were always offered and the conversation got more underway by the time we got to coffee and the freshly baked pans of bread. In the beginning much of the conversation was lost on me but as time went by we found our ways of joking with each other and exchanging language phrases in English, Spanish and even Quechua, the local language of the Incas.
And that was breakfast. A soulful moment in Ollantaytambo, in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley.
©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing Blog December 25th 2013
An Irish Woman’s journey living in the little town of Ollantaytambo, in Peru’s Sacred Valley, Cuzco Region.