My absolute favorite meal while traveling in Peru was from a Quechuan woman selling food from a plastic bucket on the side of the road. I was in the Fortune Teller’s village of Huasao, staying at the Ninos Hotel Hacienda. All profits from this hacienda, as well as their 2 hostals in Cuzco, go to help neglected children in the area. I was gathering nettles, wild radish greens, wild amaranth, wild mustard, dandelion, wood sorrel, and watercress on my way in to get my fortune told, when I stopped for a bite to eat. We had fun sifting through my bag of foraged greens until the woman found the wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) leaves. With lots of nods and happy smiles by us both, she pointed that those were the greens I was eating. Wild radish is now found virtually around the world, and was blooming here in southern CA before I left for my trip. Click here to read a study in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, showing wild radish’s powerful antioxidant capabilities.
The corn on the plate was from the Quechuan woman’s field. Maize is the most revered food on the planet. Interestingly, western cultures don’t know much about its wild relative, but it has now woven its way into our fuel, our fodder, our number one sweetener, our plastics, and more. Above is my final glass of chicha morada. This absolutely divine drink is made with either black or purple maize, and boiled with pineapple juice, cinnamon, clove, and some lime or lemon juice added just before serving. It is a very dark purple color and truly tastes like a nectar of the Gods. Thanks to the woman who fed me while I was away from my kitchen, the wild radish, and the maize!