As Profe. has informed our group, the food in Cusco is not quite as sophisticated or renowned as that of Lima. While I have not been as stunned by the freshness and creativity of Cuscanean cuisine like I was in Lima, dining in Cusco has proved remarkable in the way that it forms a link between the numerous cultures that interact in this small city. For one, the slow-paced drinking and dining culture in Peru provides an opportunity to interact with strangers from different cultures. And secondly, some of my favorite restaurants and cafes in Cusco so far specialize in international fare.
|Croissants at Café Panam|
One of the most fascinating conversations that I had with a Cuscanean surprisingly took place at the bar of the JW Marriott near Casa Elena. As Alejandra and I sipped tea and Pisco sours (by the way, I don’t particularly enjoy the Peruvian classic, but this particular Pisco sour was phenomenal), we chatted with the bartender. As one would imagine, this bartender spoke impeccable English (with all of the American tourists flooding the lobby, he didn’t have much of a choice!). What surprised me, however, was that his impressive vocabulary and dialect were not the results of rigorous school training; rather, he had simply learned English by interacting with visitors over the years. At another café, I helped an Israeli woman at a neighboring table navigate an airline website in English to book a reservation for a flight from Cusco to Lima.
|The best empanadas we've had in Cusco (at La Valeriana)|
My dining experiences on this trip have helped me realize one of my favorite things about Cusco – although the city is such a melting pot of different cultures and identities, it somehow maintains its traditional Peruvian influences. On a given day, I may have gelato for snack and an empanada for dinner. In the same way, I overhear numerous languages in the Plaza de Armas and see women wearing traditional Peruvian costumes lining the sidewalks.