A taste of Chicha

Chicha is a drink most commonly made with a maize base. The most popular form is chicha morada which is made from a purple corn and is non-alcoholic. The taste is generally very fruity and sweet. We found that this was the favored drink served at most parties and get-togethers.

A cup of chicha morada.

Chicha de jora is an alcoholic variant on chicha. Still based on fermented maize, the flavor is not sweet and much more difficult to get acquainted with. If they say that beer is an acquired taste, I found that the flavor of chicha de jora was even more so. Though I didn’t have it enough times in order to acquire it. There are places all over that sell chicha, generally served out of a large clay pot. Chicherias are common places where you can sit with others that are enjoying a break. Though small households that sell right out of their living space are frequest, often with multiple in a given neighborhood. Chicha de jora is generally fairly inexpensive, I was able to purchase a good sized glass for 0.50 soles (about $0.15). The alcohol content is only 1-3% though so generally is is consumed in relatively large quantities.

A glass of chicha de jora purchased from a house down the street for 0.50 soles.

If chicha de jora is a little to difficult to get accustomed to, there is a variant called frutillada or sometimes chicha roja which blends in some kind of fruit, usually strawberry or maybe pomegranate, and sweetened. Some of the edge of the flavor of chicha de jora is softened by the sweetness and it is a little easier to handle. A glass of frutillada was a little more expenses at 1 sol (about $0.30) for a large glass.

A glass of frutillada.

As mentioned above, finding chicha de jora is easy and walking down almost any streen in Urubamba, we would soon spot the red plastic on a wooden pole hanging out over the sidewalk that signifies the location of a chicheria. Of course, any one of these could be a large establishment or just someone’s living room. In the photo below, you can see two of the flags separated by about 30 feet.

The red plastic bag on a pole that signifies a chicheria.

Published by devinberg

Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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