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
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. Corn is 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 that 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 tasted like 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, pickled snakes.
Presumably used for medicinal purposes. I have no idea what the green mush in the bucket is—does anyone know?
4. Soup served with a jawbone in it.
For extra flavor?
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.
2. An entire bucket of cow (Horse? Donkey?) snouts.
Finally, in case the snout isn’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?