Apologies to historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, but I think I have just discovered the real secret of the Incas: an ancient civilization capable of creating masterpieces of architecture, such as Machu Picchu and the agricultural terraces of Moray, must have more than only advanced technical knowledge, spiritual power and good ideas in their portfolios.
The secret lies, I believe, in the pachamanca. Pachamanca means ‘earth pot’ in Quechua. The Andean culture gave food an important place in the religious ceremonies dedicated to nature. Pachamama, or mother earth, represents fertility and life, and the dish cooked under the earth, represents the interaction between mother (the earth), and son (the produce).
The procedure to prepare the dish involves making a deep hole in the earth with hot stones, and hours of patience. Also, a selection from the thousand varieties of Peruvian potatoes available in the country, yams, maniocs, choclos (white corn), herbs, and various marinated pieces of meat are needed. The meat, mostly lamb, is wrapped in banana leaves and then all ingredients are placed directly over the hot stones, and then covered with leaves to create a ‘natural pot’ inside the earth. After 3 hours, the food is removed, becoming then a fabulous banquet.