15 Weird and Wonderful Things You Can Buy at San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru

Things to See, Do, & Eat at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

The San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru (Mercado Central de San Pedro) is a huge food market, open seven days a week. The building itself is one block long and three blocks wide. Vendors are packed into every bit of space inside. Outside, indigenous women and children sell foods and herbs they lay out on blankets. I couldn’t get enough of exploring this vast public market. 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 that sells such a wide variety of items. I guess I should have expected this–there’s a lot of wonderful food in Peru.

Here are the 15 of the most interesting items we saw at San Pedro Market Cusco, ranked.

15. Beautiful pastries

Beautiful pastries at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

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.

Fresh squeezed juices at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

13. Rounds of bread that are bigger than my head.

Big & beautiful loaves of bread at Cusco's San Pedro Market, Peru

12. Colorful ears of corn. Corn is dried, seasoned, and eaten as a snack.

Colorful ears of corn at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

11. Tropical fruits including my favorite, passion fruit!

Tropical fruit including my favorite--passion fruit! San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

10. Colorful, oddly shaped potatoes and tubers.

Colorful potatoes and root vegetables | Things to buy at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

9. Fresh, foraged herbs—none that I recognized.

Fresh foraged herbs | Things to buy at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

8. Peru’s favorite raw ingredient of cocaine—coca leaves!

Buying coca leaves at San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro) in Cusco, Peru

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 tasted like chicken eggs.

Street vendors selling quail eggs | San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro), Cusco, Peru

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…

Vendors selling roasted guinea pig (cuy) | San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro), Cusco, Peru

5. Dead, pickled snakes.

Presumably used for medicinal purposes. I have no idea what the green mush in the bucket is—does anyone know?

Pickled snakes? Things to buy at San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro), Cusco, Peru

4. Soup served with a jawbone in it.

For extra flavor?

Soup served with the jawbone | Things to buy at San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro), Cusco, Peru

3. Dragon Blood

Locals called this stuff “Sangre de Drago” (“dragon’s blood”) and while it looks like animal blood, it’s actually 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.

Vendor selling "Dragon's Blood" (Sangre de Drago) - Mercado Central de San Pedro, Cusco, Peru

2. An entire bucket of cow (Horse? Donkey?) snouts.

A bucket of snouts? Things to see at San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

Finally, in case the snout isn’t enough…

1. A donkey head.

A donkey head for sale at the San Pedro Market Cusco, Peru

Have you been to Cusco’s San Pedro Market or other markets around the world that sell interesting foods? 

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  1. A pastry and fresh squeezed juice sounds like the perfect breakfast. I’ll pass on the donkey head 😉

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Yes, it was the perfect place for breakfast! As long as you have a strong enough stomach to handle the surprises around every corner :)

  2. Holy cow this is awesome!!!! I think I would just wander around with my jaw on the ground!

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      It was an amazing place, so many interesting things to see! You guys should check it out if you make it back to Peru!

  3. Those bread loaves look like giant bread hats!

  4. This is awesome. It just makes me want to go back to South America even that much more. I think my favorite is the guinea pigs especially since everyone probably wants to eat one out of a dirty bucket.

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hehe, I wouldn’t want a guinea pig any other way! Yes, you guys should definitely get back there! The Sacred Valley area is worth spending some time in.

  5. I thought I was reading my shopping list..then things got weird! Not sure on buying a mixed bag of snouts! I’d heard the markets in Peru were interesting, I will have to experience it one day…the market not the snouts.

    Love the blog, kind regards, Si

    ps. We would love you to enter a photo to our Picture The World Project: http://www.thedepartureboard.com/picture-the-world-project

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hehe, there’s certainly something for everyone there! And thanks, great project–I’ll email you!

  6. Wow, I’m so glad you found my blog so I could find your blog. As you saw, I got stuck in the San Pedro Market’s meat section (this is a problem I have had in markets around the world!) and missed so much of what you saw there. As I learned, don’t start with the meat section, it can put you off the market’s other treats!

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Very good point and great advice! We made it to the meat section in that section at the very end, after we had already filled up on the fresh juice and pastries :) Glad to find you!

  7. #10 are not potatoes (papas) those are “olluco” or “olluquito”, don’t really know the name in english and #2 are used to prepare “Senca” it is a typical dish from the place

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks, Jose! Great information! I modified #10 to read potatoes/tubers! I looked up olluco in wikipedia and see they also use the word “papa lisa” which I’d heard used before–another reason to think it was a type of potato :) And #2–fascinating! How do they cook the snout? Is there meat on it or do they use it in a soup?

      Any idea what the green stuff is in #5? I’m dying to know!

  8. Hi.

    Came across your blog doing some Cusco research for my upcoming Peru blog series (went there a few weeks, posts will begin in June). I have one post on What To Do in Cusco in a Day and will link your site to my my San Pedro Market recommendation.

    Love your appreciation for both the wonderful and the weird. I share the same fascination. Wish I had read this article before I had left, as I missed seeing most of these items when I was there.

    Great post: informative, straightforward and interesting.

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks, Esme! Glad you appreciate the post and more importantly, the place! It is the most fascinating public food market I’ve ever been to and definitely one of the highlights of my travels to Peru. We were a little burned out on travel by the time we arrived in Cusco so the rest of the city just frustrated me, but I’d like to make it back one day to explore the place with an open mind. I really look forward to reading your post! :)

  9. Actually it´s call “Sangre de grado” at least it´s call so in Peru :)


    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Jorg, great, thank you so much for the tip! I’ll add the other name to the caption. Such a fascinating plant! :)

  10. Exploring markets is an exciting adventure by itself.
    Totally weird, horror stuff you depicted here… eeew!

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  1. […] If you’re a foodie, curious about other cultures or just harbor a healthy morbid fascination (yes, yes and yes in my case), continue in the same direction, walking an additional 10 minutes to the San Pedro Market for all sorts of weird and wonderful things. […]

  2. […] For more of the weird and wonderful things which can be purchused at the San Pedro Markets in Cusco, Peru, check out this blog: http://www.everintransit.com/weird-wonderful-things-at-cuscos-san-pedro-market/ […]

  3. best markets in cuzco says:

    […] This market is also one of the best markets in Cuzco to try the local dishes (ceviche, mazamora…) and the local drinks (pisco sour, mate de coca…). Among the weirdest things you could find there, there is the soup served with a jawbone in it or the roasted and ready-to-eat guinea pigs. Here’s a list of the 15 weirdest things you could find there (http://www.everintransit.com/weird-wonderful-things-at-cuscos-san-pedro-market/) […]

  4. […] not the only one who thinks San Pedro Market is pretty wonderful. This blog post has a cool list of things that you can see at the market. Yes, I saw each and every one of those […]

  5. […] the San Pedro Market. I don’t hear enough people talking about this place. I stumbled across this blog post from Ever In Transit one day, and realized I had to go to this place. San Pedro Market seemed wacky […]

  6. […] in the Eiffel Tower!). Fellow long-term travelers over at Ever in Transit wrote a great post about what you can find at the San Pedro Market. We ended up buying some dried fruits and nuts, a giant loaf of freshly baked bread, some quail […]

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