By Solsire Cusicanqui and Rebekah Junkermeier
The local residents of San José de Moro, Peru, are not only attracting visitors with their archaeological and artisanal treasures, but with their gastronomical ones as well. This past summer, a group of seven entrepreneurial women in the community started their own business preparing traditional Peruvian lunches for archaeologists, field school students, volunteers, and special guests at the archaeological site.
“We want visitors to learn about our food and to offer them a friendly atmosphere in our homes,” said Ms. Augustina, one of the entrepreneurial chefs. And teach and host they did, preparing traditional dishes from the North Coast such as arroz con pato (rice with duck), espesado (a thick rice soup with meat), and cuy (guinea pig–raised in their homes), as well as natural juices made from local fruits such as passion fruit, papaya, and chichi morada (purple corn). Through their project, foreign and Peruvian visitors alike were able to experience an authentic slice of San José de Moro life. The cultural exchange expanded beyond the food as visitors interacted with the women and their families, discussing recipes and typical dishes from their hometowns and using other students as translators for those who did not speak Spanish. The women have met with significant success: in the month of July, they brought in a total of $2,530 in revenue, an average of $360 for each chef.
The local business was such a hit that at the end of the field season, archaeologists, field school students, and guests held a contest to elect the best chef among the women. Although Augustina, Lidia, Norma, Pilar, Sonia, Flor, and Mara all cooked marvelous meals, only one could be the winner. The students and guests overwhelmingly chose Ms. Augustina as the best and she was awarded a new rice cooker as a prize.
We applaud the growing role of women in the local job market of San José de Moro and look forward to seeing the future entrepreneurial endeavors of these women and others!