The morning began in Pisac, another popular day-trip destination deservedly famed for its bustling artisan market and ridge-top Incan citadel. Here, Leo treated me to a breakfast of cheesy empanadas, pasties fresh baked at the historic Horno Colonial San Francisco, an open-air oven where pale cuy (guinea pigs) lay in rows, claws aloft, awaiting cremation.
But the real treats began in the hamlet of Viacha, high above both town and ruins. As we arrived, stones were being super-heated in a pit, preparation for our lunch. Not just any lunch, mind: pachamanca (literally, ‘earth pot’), a communal feast dating from pre-Inca times. We watched as the subterranean oven was prepared, and Leo recited ingredients as they piled in: mounds of lamb, chicken, pork, guinea pig, plantains, broad beans and more kinds of potato than you could imagine (at least 2,000 varieties grow in Peru), garnished with herbs and flowers for flavour and health. As Leo commented: “In Andean communities, far from doctors, food must be your medicine.” Pachamanca is all about the preparation. Covered with a damp blanket, rocks and soil, the goodies were beautifully roasted in under an hour; the crispy cuy – thoughtfully sliced into anonymous-looking fillets – was delectable.