The San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru is a huge, open air market that operates every day of the week. The building itself is one block long and three blocks wide. Vendors are squeezed into every bit of space, and they sprawl out of the market onto the streets and sidewalks nearby where indigenous women and children sell foods and herbs they lay out on blankets. I couldn’t get enough of exploring this vast commercial center. I could have wandered the stalls for hours.
Markets around the world have beautiful produce and assortments of vegetables, but I’ve never been to a market with such an interesting variety of items being sold. There is also just a lot of weird food in Peru!
Here are the 15 of the most interesting items we saw at Cusco’s San Pedro market, in increasing order of weirdness:
15. Beautiful pastries
14. Fresh squeezed juices
The Cusco food market had about 30 fresh juice vendors, serving identical mixes of juice at identical prices. I have no idea how one is supposed to choose which one to go to. Kevin and I went to this woman’s stand twice for these reasons: 1. She was the first stall in the row, and 2. She had a nice smile.
13. Rounds of bread that are bigger than my head
12. Colorful ears of corn—Dried, seasoned and eaten as a snack.
11. Tropical fruits including my favorite, passion fruit!
10. Colorful, oddly shaped potatoes and tubers.
9. Fresh, foraged herbs—None of which I recognized.
8. Peru’s favorite raw ingredient of cocaine—Coca leaves!
7. Hard boiled quail eggs.
Street vendors surround the Cusco market selling three eggs for $0.50, in a baggie with a sprinkling of salt. You eat them with the toothpick. They didn’t taste any different than hard-boiled chicken eggs.
6. Roasted and ready-to-eat guinea pigs.
This is our favorite of the weird foods in Peru. As you may recall, seeing this bucket of cuy made Kevin very hungry…
5. Dead snakes in a bottle
Used for medicinal purposes. I have no idea what the green, saag paneer-looking mush in the bucket is—does anyone know what it may be?
4. Soup served with a jawbone in it.
I assume the teeth give it extra flavor.
3. Dragon blood
It’s called “Sangre de Drago” or “Sangre de Grado” (both translate to “dragon’s blood”) and it’s sap from an Amazonian tree Croton lechleri. Note the long spools of bark. When you cut a piece off, it bleeds! Local people use the ‘blood’ to sooth joint pain and arthritis.
2. An entire bucket of cow (Or horse? Or donkey?) snouts.
Finally, in case the snout wasn’t enough…
1. A donkey head.
Have you been to Cusco’s San Pedro Market or other markets around the world that sell interesting foods? Have you seen any other weird foods in Peru?