Eating Llaucha in Chulumani
I had written it down from Internet notes and a guide also told me to try it. Evidently it was a pastry sold in the Chulumani plaza.
I usually stay away from street food. Since my trips are fairly short, I just don’t have two days to spend delayed affixed to the closest bathroom. Since this was a pastry, and not meat (possibly raw) or sautéed vegetables (possibly washed in unsanitary water), I thought it would be safe to try.
The first laugh came from the hotel owner when I asked her where we could buy Llachua, which I pronounced “ya-choo-a.” She began to hand me the dictionary stashed behind the front desk when I showed her the written word. “Oh llaucha!” Pronounced, ‘yow (like cow)-cha.’ She laughed, took a pen to correct my misspelling, and directed me to the end of the plaza.
A crowd of 15 people waited beneath a golden canopy extending from the building. Inside, in a factory-like production, young girls rolled dough into golf-size balls, another girl rolled these into flat tortilla-size circles, and I couldn’t see for sure if the end product was being baked or fried.
The restlessness grew when a huge tray over two feet long appeared containing triangles of fried pastry.
Two ladies worked the table and the campesinos were frantically placing their orders for two, six, four, – they would soon be gone. I managed to ask what they were called. It was an empanada. I quickly requested one.
As she handed the empanada to me, I managed another question amongst the commotion, “Tiene llaucha?” (Do you have llaucha?) I was still determined to try the recommended pastry.
She laughed. “Ese es llaucha!” (That is llaucha!) She pointed in my hand.
Some color rose to my face, but I grinned. Well OK then, time to try it!
In her eyes, it was as if she had handed me a Budweiser, and I asked, “Do you also have beer?” That day, I was the ignorant tourist that brought a mixture of delight and humor to her face.
So maybe, llaucha is Quechua for the Spanish word empanada? I’ve never tasted an empanada so good.
Llaucha consists of delicious melted cheese with a gentle hint of jalapeno, stuffed inside dough that was fried (or baked?) to a golden brown – a stuffed croissant melting in my mouth. Had I known about llaucha earlier, I would have had no problems eating in Chulumani. I could eat this all day long (although later I was told to purchase it only in the morning).
These aren’t quite the same as the Llaucha found in Chulumani, but it’s still interesting to see how they are made.
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