35 Cuzco Corn Seeds-1050

Regular price $ 3.00

Peru has many distinctive foods, but the ”giant white corn of Cuzco”, known for its large kernels, is one of the first to obtain a denomination of origin. The white corn gained this honor after an arduous bureaucratic process in 2006 while a year ago, January 2010, the traditional “knowledges, uses and technologies” associated with this corn in Cuzco’s Sacred Valley gained another distinction as “National Cultural Patrimony”.

In both cases, the distinction celebrates a relationship between food and place and between food and culture. The long mountain valley through which the Vilcanota river meanders is the heart of Cuzco, both now and in times past. It is a complex ecosystem in which high mountain pastures and potato fields are connected with the broad fields of corn of the valley’s floor in a single system of culture and food. And, the production of white corn is at its center.

For the Incas corn was associated with the sun. The opening of the fields and the harvest were matters of state ritual. From corn, not only came food, but when fermented came chicha the state brew. Not only did the Incas consume large amounts of the drink such that the Spaniards commented on their drinking and the resulting drunkenness, their descendants still drink chicha today. The flag announcing the presence of the drink for consumption appears on doorway after doorway throughout the Andes and chicherías, or places where chicha and food can be purchased are important in local culture, though few tourists make their way to them.

Chicha was also fed in massive quantities to the earth, the mother of the universe, and to the mountains and sky. Even today, people will flick the foam from glasses of beer and pour the first bit of it and of chicha to the earth to share their drink with the world around them.