Monday, September 21, 2015

Peru: Mercado Central de San Pedro

We rolled into Cusco at 4:00 in the morning.  We almost had to sleep out on the street because nobody answered the door of our Airbnb house when we knocked...and knocked...and knocked.  Luckily, our taxi driver circled back around and used his cell phone to call our hostess.

At a more godly hour, my sister and I set out to explore.  CK was still bedridden due to altitude sickness and AG just needed a couple hours of sleep.

One of the major selling points of our first Airbnb location in Cusco was its proximity to San Pedro Market:


















San Pedro Market was literally a wonderland.  You could find just about everything there:


















After just one walk through, I knew I would be back again and again.  There was just so much to see and discover.

There was a whole section dedicated just to chicken soup.  The really popular one at the corner was a bit intimidating with all the people crowded around, so we instead went with the chicken soup lady with the friendliest smile:























A bowl of chicken soup with noodles set us back a measly S/.5 or just under $2:


















The bowl was assembled in front of our eyes.  The chicken, the noodles, the veggies, and then the hot broth.  The veggies were pickled and significantly cooler in temperature than the rest of the components of the dish, which was a little jarring.  But that broth tho.  That broth.

It was so good we bought one to go to bring back to AG and CK.

On the way out, we found the juice section.  We randomly picked a juice lady:
























We loved her so much that we ended up going back to her exclusively for our juice needs.  We later introduced CK and AG to our juice lady and they fell in love with her too.  We went to her stall so often that she noticed when we left Cusco for a few days.

For days, I thought our juice lady's name was Alejandra.  CK backed me up, but my sister insisted that her name was Alejandrina.  It kills me to say this, but my sister was right.  Alejandrina was written clear as day on her stall sign.

Ugh.  I hate it when my sister is right.

Anyway, what we loved about Alejandrina was how generous she was.  She blends so much juice that you basically get two glasses every time.  And when you order to go, you get your drink in a bag:


















In.  A.  Bag.  After Southeast Asia, I'm a sucker for drinks in a bag.

Every juice is freshly made with fresh fruit.  Whatever fruit Alejandrina doesn't have at her stall, she runs off to buy from the fruit vendors a few rows down, even chirimoya.

By our second day in Cusco, CK was feeling well enough to venture out.  We started our morning out once again at San Pedro Market.  CK might have bitten off more than she could chew or, well, digest, when she stopped by this vendor:























And ordered a lamb head soup:


















No joke.  Lamb head:


















That was the smoothest damn brain I've ever tasted in my life.  Almost the texture of cream cheese.  It was freakishly delicious, but a little too much for CK's sensitive stomach to handle.  It took four of us to finish one bowl, but the little old Peruvian lady sitting next to me not only polished off her bowl, but also asked for a refill of soup and veggies.

We returned to Cusco after Machu Picchu.  One of the first things we did was stop by San Pedro Market.  Even though our new Airbnb apartment was further away from the market, we didn't let that deter us.

Restaurant Leo was hoppin', so we grabbed a seat:


















We ordered beef tongue with pureed potatoes:


















That was the most watery mashed potatoes I'd ever had, but it was AMAZING.  I'm all about mashed potato soup now.

The stewed lamb with beans was also mind blowing:


















Love, love, love San Pedro Market.  On our last full day in Cusco, we went in and basically bought all of our souvenirs there in one go.  CK bargained for all of us and we were able to get quite a good deal.

People have said not to spend too much time in Cusco, but I disagree.  San Pedro Market warrants more than one visit.  Cheap meals, cheap gifts, and Alejandrina.

Everybody should go for Alejandrina alone.


Mercado Central de San Pedro
Plazoleta San Pedro, Cusco, Peru

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