In the High Andean Communities, the yuyo is found inside the huachos (furrows) of potatoes and in the lowlands, as in the Sacred Valley, where they usually grow inside the corn and bean plants. The plants are harvested in the morning, and they are gathered in traditional cloth blanket, since, if plastic were to be used, they begin to sweat, losing flavor and becoming bitter. Harvesters recommend using a cloth blanket called Lliklla, to protect the flavor from the time of harvesting. During this time, they also collect wild chijchipas (Tagetes mandonii Sch. Bip.), a species related to the aromatic huacatay herb. All the flavor is born here in the wild and then returns in a preparation to share in this same place.
The “yuyo haucha” stew is part of the ritual called “mikhuna”, a pre-lunch sharing that is enjoyed on the farm when some kind of ayni (return of favors, based on reciprocity principle in the Andean culture) is performed. The “yuyo haucha” and the other stews are carried by women wrapped in blankets, so that it does not lose temperature. At ten o’clock in the morning, the villagers gather and each woman begins to distribute what she brought; the food begins to circulate from hand to hand, clockwise. The “yuyo haucha” also serves as a cold meat for the “llulluchas” (Nostoc commune Vauch.) gatherers, medicinal herb collectors, shepherds and travelers of the peasant communities. It is a friendly dish for Andean woman and man.
In the Urubamba farmers’ market, Tuesdays are the main days, and many small producers and collectors exhibit and sell their seasonal products, such as Hilda Tejada, collector of medicinal herbs from the peasant community of Huama – Lamay. Also, Justina Huamán, who comes from Patacancha – Ollantaytambo, bringing ollucos, chuño and moraya that she herself has preserved, along with medicinal roots that she collects near her home or often returning from the farm. Here, in the market, the “yuyo haucha” is a very popular dish. Justina never lacks a plate of yuyo, if she is not selling her products, she is chopping her Yuyo huacha or the ollucos she brought to be able to sell at a higher price or peeling dried beans. This dish is accompanied with mote, puspo (parboiled roasted beans), chuño, moraya and uchucuta (aromatic and spicy traditional Andean sauce). In the rural communities above 4000 m.a.s.l., yuyo does not grow and so it becomes a favorite when the villagers visit the market.
In Carmen Huamán’s chichería (place where they sell Chicha, a fermented corn drink) “Ch’uspi” in Arín – Calca, there is a tullpa (kitchen) composed simply of three large stones where the guiñapo (germinated corn) is cooked to make chicha. To the side, there are two large, pot-bellied raquis, embedded in the earth for fifteen years. Around them, guinea pigs run around, as if to keep the chicha warm so that it can continue fermenting on cold nights. The sparkling chicha poured from the winco (a type of spoon made from a kind of gourd), with four degrees of alcoholic volume, is accompanied by “yuyo haucha” and uchucuta, which are placed in the center of a large table. The uchucuta is very spicy and makes you drink more chicha, there are also boiled green beans with onion, llullucha, seasoned with chicha qoncho, pepper, parsley and slices of hot pepper. Sometimes the llullucha is replaced by leaves of occo ruro (Cardamine bonariensis Pers.) a kind of watercress that grows around the lagoons, and also at the edge of streams or cochayuyo (dehydrated seaweed). They call this spicy one, solterito (single), between laughs they say that it should only be eaten by single people.
HARVESTING AND PREPARATION:
Harvesting begins very early, when the first sun rays appear through the top of the tutelary Apus. It is then where the weeds are cut, selecting those with large green leaves. It is recommended that they are consumed before the plant flowers.
Everything should be covered with a cloth before taking it home or to the market
- Stems and leaves should be washed to remove soil or other weeds.
- Chop the stems and leaves.
- Place four liters of water and two handfuls of ash in a bowl, mix with a spoon until a cloudy water is formed and let it settle for twenty minutes.
- Once the ash is sedimented, this water is added to a pot very slowly so as not to mix again with the sediment. It is brought to boil and then the yuyo is added little by little, cooking for an average of fifteen minutes. The color of the cooked yuyo should be green, not yellow.
- Once cooked, it is drained in a colander and cold water is added, the water where it was cooked is reserved for later use.
- The cooked and cooled yuyo is drained with the hand making some balls.
- In a hot frying pan add lard, garlic, chopped onion and chijchipa, once browned add the bolos of cooked yuyo. They should stew for approximately fifteen minutes adding little by little the water reserve so that the stew does not lose humidity, some add boiled potato crumbled here in this step (optional).
- To serve, it is accompanied with chuño, previously parboiled morayas, puspo (parboiled roasted beans), mote de maíz and uchucuta.
The uchucuta is a spicy sauce made with rocoto, sachatomate, chijchipa, peanuts or roasted chullpi corn and salt from maras, ground in a batán.
The recipe can vary, you can sauté all the ingredients before grinding or grind them all raw.
NOTE: When the yuyos are very flowery they are used for medicinal baths of the body, traditionally used for rheumatism.