Chicherías are traditional spaces where people get together in the afternoon to drink the famous chicha: a fermented drink made from corn. Nutrition and drunkenness, an excellent combination which shows the importance of food and drink to the Andean culture.
In chicherías, you share long tables with strangers, but don’t worry: it’s easy to start a conversation! You can also order some traditional snacks or appetizers while you drink, share the joy and, who knows, discuss the world’s political situation. Lots of writers coincide in the democratic and formative spirit of the chicherías. Your social class and origin don’t matter; everyone who shares a table in a chichería is equal.
However, a few years ago because of the prejudice and ignorance of some municipal authorities, chicherías were persecuted. Many of these traditional places in Cusco were closed, allegedly because they were centers where delinquents got together to get drunk and commit crimes. Thankfully, the sense of identity, struggle against racism and love for tradition continue strengthening chicherías little by little.
Let’s go drink a chicha at Mamá Trini’s!
San Blas is one of the most touristic traditional neighborhoods in Cusco. There, not only will you find vegetarian restaurants with rose petal salads or French crepes with ice cream but also chicherías.
To find Mamá Trini’s chichería, go to the lookout of San Blas, and take advantage of your spot to enjoy an incredible view of the historical center of Cusco! Next, all you have to do is ask any Cusquenian, “Where is Mamá Trini’s chichería?” Everyone knows about it. You’ll have to go through some narrow streets and maybe ask a couple other times. It’s all worth it.
Mrs. Haydé, who’s actually responsible for the chichería, will be waiting to tend to you as if you were her own son or daughter. “My mom, Mamá Trini, is 73 years old. She was born in Yanaoca. This chichería has been in operation for more than 30 years. One time, they came wanting to shut us down, but we told them that we conserve the essence and tradition of Cusco. Besides, our chicha is natural. We don’t use alcohol to make it”.
Traditionally, chicherías were also places where musicians met. “One time, I went on a trip to Moquegua, and when I came back, a musician had gotten together a group of his friends to play one Thursday. Since then, they come sometimes on Thursdays. So I clean everything and leave the place beautiful so that everyone comes. This Thursday, one of the musicians, Siwar, invited everyone on Facebook. Because of that, the chichería is full today”, Haydé told us. It’s a joy that technology can, in some ways, help to strengthen the living culture of the Andes.
Siwar Peralta plays the bandurria, a small stringed instrument, wearing a colorful chullo. He’s part of the cultural group Tawa which brings together young Cusquenians who are interested in improving in Andean dance and music. This task is vital for Peru, a very fragmented country where discrimination is common. However, it’s thanks to young people like him that Mamá Trini’s chichería is revived with more light and power than ever before.
That Thursday, we also talked to Luiggi Peralta Mora, known better as Qosqoruna, a young man who has dedicated himself to expending rap in Quechua. “We’re here to share our sacred drink and our indigenous music which, today, is at risk of extinction. Here, on Thursdays, we also share Quechua. In this way, our culture will be passed from generation to generation. Here, we can feel proud of our Andean essence. I drink chicha to find myself and to communicate with our grandmothers and grandfathers: the mountains, the stars, the water, the wind, the fire and the very Pachamama (Mother Earth). I like the chicha at Mamá Trini’s because it’s natural. The chicha brings us together in conversation to talk about the situation in Cusco, to balance our body and soul and, finally, to be happy”.
The greatest wealth of Peru is in its cultural diversity, which has resisted centuries of threats. Unforgettable experiences wait for you in Mamá Trini’s chichería, where you can appreciate the sunset behind the mountains. Discover this alternative Cusco which escapes the reach of any official tours or guides.