Monday March 14 was my “host grandmother’s” 85th birthday. Now to back up, I have witnessed all sorts of birthday celebrations here in Peru, from barely acknowledging the day, to “torta” (cake) and “Pachamanca” or “cuy” as traditional food for celebrations. But this was something else!
Apparently important birthday milestones such as turning 85 years old, merits a much larger celebration. The whole family came together last Saturday (all of her children and grandchildren, including those living in Lima) and made it a very special day. Days in anticipation, my host family was busy buying decorations, preparing an enormous Pachamanca including slaughtering and skinning 2 alpacas (which unexpectedly took place in the middle of our patio one morning) and de-kernelling “choclo” (a type of corn), organizing for the Church mass and contracting a band (yes a band!).
First, the family got together at my host grandmother’s house to socialize and eat “patasca” soup (basically, intestines and corn – not my favorite but it seems to be breakfast at every party so they must enjoy it!) and then went to the church for a special church mass ceremony. The band waited outside to start the festive dancing in front of the church and marched with us back to the house. Incredibly my host grandmother, who doesn’t walk well, managed to dance just fine with her children. Next Pachamanca lunch was served – alpaca, potatoes, sweet potato and “humitas” (corn treat) – and to this I agree it is delicious!
Later, we listened to toasts from the immediate family, presentation of gifts, cake and other treats and… a piñata! The rest of the afternoon was more dancing and drinking with the 50 or so people that attended. Quite a celebration!
I apologize to my real grandparents. Shall we celebrate this way for your next birthday?