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Saylla – the Ultimate Chicharrón Challenge

Picture by: Más Peruano Que

Saylla lies in the South Valley about 15 km or 40 minutes bus ride from the center of Cusco on the way to Puno before arriving to Tipon. Saylla or Los Leones combis go there for 1 sol. When your bus is getting closer a new valley opens in front of your eyes and that is the moment to start looking out for the restaurants. They are situated right on the main road, so as soon as you can see them get off on the next paradero. There are so many open-air restaurants it seems like all the chicharrón cooks agreed to move to Saylla and start a culinary imperium there.

Many have their kitchens on display to attract clients. Some of the chicharrónerías have lawns and some even have slides for the children. In Peru country restaurants with grass are called restaurantes campestres and they are ready for families with children that come to enjoy a Sunday lunch and family time. Pick one and enjoy one of the most typical Peruvian dishes from the sierra region (for 15 – 25 soles depending on a size of the serving), the fresh Andean air, pleasant weather (hopefully no torrential rain!), and slower pace typical for this countryside.

Chicharrón

According to the Peruvian cuisine chicharron[1] belongs among appetizers. But, it is more than that! It is a challenge – a discipline as it were of the gastronomical Olympics. It is a must for your Peru bucket list.

Preparation: The pork is chopped into chunks, salted, and put into large frying pans with some water. As the water boils out the meat releases its own fat and starts frying. No extra frying oil is needed. When done it is crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. It is served with fried potatoes or yuca (cassava), boiled giant maize kernels, and a salad made of red onions sprinkled with lime juice and mixed with mint leaves. This salad no only adds a fresh twis,t it also helps digesting the meat. Of course, a spicy ají (a salsa made with hot Peruvian peppers) cannot be missing on the table. While you are waiting for your dish the waiter will bring a small plate with canchita (roasted maize kernels) and tocto (crunchy fried pork skin) – very filling combination in itself. Beer, especially Cusqueña since we are in Cusco, is the best accompanying drink, as it helps digestion. Coke and Inca Cola gaseosas are also available.

Those truly gifted individuals with speedy metabolism or secret dimensions in their stomachs will surely have enough room to enjoy a soup before eating their chicharrón. Chicharonerías in Saylla also prepare the typical chairo soup. It is a delicious filling dish originally prepared for campesinos, to give them enough energy to resist long hours of physical work in the fields. Chuño (dehydrated potatoes), onions, carrots, peas, habas, corn and wheat kernels, sweet potatoes, and beef or lamb or both are among the usual Cusco ingredients. Different varieties of the soup are prepared in Puno, Arequipa, or La Paz, Bolivia.

If on top of this all food you don‘t resist the smell of sweet picarones[2] once back in Cusco, you are the absolute winner! Because it’s almost inevitable to fall asleep after this hearty meal.

Did you dare? Were you even in a mood for a desert? Tell us about your experience and which of the restaurants, you think, is the best.

[1] Chicharrón has Spanish origins, which is why different varieties can be found in most Latin American countries. In Cusco it is not only made of pork, but also chicken or fish. Pan con chicharrón sandwiches are also very popular. (Wikipedia)

[2] These are similar to doughnuts, but the dough is made with sweet potatoes and they are sprinkled with karamel souce on top. Watch here 6 and a half minutes into the video.

 

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