“It is a communal social rite in which eaters enjoy delectable vegetables and meats that have gathered the energy of the earth, from Pachamama, the Earth Mother.
No other style of cooking shows such a strong connection to the forces of nature.
In the Andes, the practice of cooking in the ground has a very long history… up to seven or eight thousand years old have been found at archeological sites in the central Andes, and going back five thousand years on the coast.
Traces of pre-historic pachamanca type foods include potatoes and peppers. The term pachamanca in Quechua is a combination of “pacha”: earth and “manca”: cook pot; thus, “cook pot of the earth”. However, in the south’s Aymara language, “manca” is food, so then: “earth food”.
The basic technique is to dig a pit in the ground. Inside… large stones are placed upon a wood fire and heated until red hot. River stones such as schist are best for this, for their low sulfur content.
Depending on the region, the meats can include pork, lamb, beef and/or chicken. The meats are well marinated with herbs and spices, such as Peruvian hot peppers (ají), cumin, garlic, salt, chicha and two indispensable local herbs- huacatay and chincho.
The meats are well wrapped in chincho leaves, placed upon the hot rocks and covered with banana leaves. Wrapped vegetables are then placed into the pit, including potatoes, hearty Andean corn, fava beans, sweet potatoes, cassava and pre-prepared Andean corn tamales called humitas.
The wait is a festive part of the feast; it’s time to socialize, have a few drinks with family and friends, and feel your mouth water in anticipation.”
According to Andeanlodges.com
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