For those of us used to seeing chicken cut into parts, wrapped in plastic, and cooling in supermarket refrigerators, a trip to a local Peruvian market is fascinating and a bit daunting. At the biggest market, San Pedro, just up the street from the Plaza de Armas, you’ll find fruits, vegetables, alpaca charqui (the Quechua source of our word jerky), pig’s heads, herbs, fruit juices, weavings, and much, much more. You’ll see a fair number of foreigners wandering here as well, so for an experience that feels more authentic, try San Blas Market or Rosaspata, both off the tourist track.
Street food, handicrafts, jewelry, pottery, spices and more fill the stalls of the vast Mercado Central de San Pedro (San Pedro market), where you can get a colorful taste of local life. After picking up souvenirs, chat with some of the artists to learn how minerals are used to make paints and dyes, visit an herbal medicine stand to stock up on natural remedies, or sample some freshly-squeezed mixed fruit juice. The market is also a great place for people watching, as many shoppers are dressed in traditional clothing. Photo by Chuck Moravec/Flickr.
Cusco's Ultimate Local Market
During our first day in Cusco, we were wandering somewhat aimlessly when we ran into the Mercado Central de San Pedro. Not entirely sure what to expect, we walked in to explore and were instantly overjoyed. The market, a huge tented space, is home to loads of local vendors doling out cheeses, meats, toys, herbs, freshly baked bread and candy. A long row of women manned counters serving up freshly squeezed juices using your choice of available fruit. We opted for an orange/passionfruit juice to go, fuel for our journey through the remainder of the market. Locals were trading in their nuevo soles for goods, and loading up bags to go. The back part of the market houses food stations with prepared food for ready-made lunch and the local Cusquena beer or Inka Cola for takers. The whole scene was welcoming and real. For our first day outside of the bounds of Lima, we finally felt like we were beginning to discover what Peru‘s all about.
Not for the Faint Hearted
Must see if you go to Cusco, but come prepared. In between the produce & juice stands, you’ll find animal jaws & pigs heads. I highly recommend going just for the experience.
Sometimes, you do not want to bring it all home...
A love of fresh and local food should bring any traveler to the San Pedro Market. Although close to the main square, it is not a common tourist stop. It is, however, a sensory lovers heaven, with rows of brightly colored root vegetables, fruits being prepared into juices (YUMMMM), locals cooking up tasty meals for market goers and other vendors, even some tailors and used good pawners. What I was not prepared for was the butcher stalls that did not leave much secrecy concerning where your meats come from. Although I find it a positive thing that they use all parts of the animal when cooking (no waste!), it is not exactly a pretty site to behold! Right after taking this photo, I accidentally bumped into an older gentleman since I could not stop making eye contact with this poor swine soul.
Weird & Wonderful San Pedro market
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. Incredible Trip to Peru: http://bit.ly/11IZdBX
The San Pedro Market in Cusco
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 fill every bit of space offering the sights and smells of traditional Cusco. The San Pedro market offers a vast variety of interesting items from fruits & vegetables, meats, breads, and clothing to pig heads and fried Guinea pig. The Saturday market is the largest of the week and it extends to the adjacent streets
Breakfast at San Pedro Market
Just a short walk from the main Plaza de Armas, San Pedro Market is a whirlwind of colors and flavors spanning 3 city blocks, full of locals and tourists alike. There is an entire row dedicated to fresh juice stands and another for its famous chicken broth, which lots of locals start their day with. Start your morning by sitting at one of the small communal tables outside any of the breakfast stands and try some muña tea or hot chocolate made with cloves and cinnamon, then spend a couple hours wandering the aisles. You’ll find everything from touristy souvenirs to local meat and cheese, coffee, and chocolate, little kiosks stuffed with spices and interesting odds and ends, and of course more authentic delicacies like cuy (guinea pig).
Don't Miss The Market!
It kind of smells like a butcher shop, but it is a real study in life in Cusco. People sell everything from wool hats and scarves to cheese and potatoes.