Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Potpourri in Patapo

Lots of interesting things going on in Patapo this Saturday morning. What brought us there was another invitation from university psychology students to visit a pronoei they were working with. This was a different group than the one in my previous post but from the same school; the University of Sipàn. Pronoei "Semillitas Kids" is located in the city of Patapo. It has been located in the same private home for the last four years. In the afternoon the owner uses the space to operate a business of some sort.

The university students (it ought to be illegal to be that young!) were there to talk to parents about how the home environment can positively or negatively affect the classroom environment. About a dozen mothers attended the session. Cecelia (pink blouse) has been the director/teacher for seven years; four at this location and three at a previous site. She has 30 kids in this school term. About 10 will graduate to primary school but there are more than enough new 3 year olds to take their place. We agreed to visit her classroom again next January when early registration begins to talk about what she may need.

There was a fair going on in Patapo for the past week that we didn’t know about. It ends next Monday. I was surprised at how extensive it was, with kiosks offering everything from shoes to flowers, food and fish. Many restaurants shared the streets with carnival booths offering games and rides. It wasn’t in full stride yet this morning but I imagine that later tonight the town of Patapo will be swinging.

After walking the streets and seeing what the fair had to offer we looked for a restaurant to get something to eat and to relax for awhile. Señora Muñoz’s chicharrôn stand got our attention because of the mouth watering aroma of fried pork and the huge pig waiting its turn for the skillet. All it took was an order for two portions of chicharrôn and a question about the pig to get Señora Muñoz talking non-stop.

The pig was a 24 month old female that she said weighed 330 kilos. That would be about 730 pounds. Not sure if I buy that but it’s possible. Wikipedia says that domestic pigs can weigh from 110 to 770 pounds. She and her husband raised it from a new born piglet. When its growth had maxed out there was a difference of opinion about what to do with it. Señora Muñoz said her husband was sentimental and wanted to sell it instead of butchering it. To which she replied, “Are you crazy? We can make four times as much selling it for chicharrôn than by selling it whole!” Her husband relented but said he could not kill it. When I asked Señora Muñoz if she took part in the butchering she said, “No…I went to visit a neighbor. I was sad and didn’t want to see it.”

In addition to the pork Señora Muñoz sells fried intestines and guinea pig, which she also raises herself (the guinea pigs…not the intestines). Guinea pig is relatively expensive, costing about $13 but Peruvians going back to the time of the Incas consider them fine eating. We bought this one to take home.

By the way, chicharrôn is usually associated with pork but the word itself in practice means deep fried. In a restaurant if you order just chicharrôn you’ll get fried pork, but you can order chicharrôn de pollo (chicken) or chicharrôn de pescado (fish), both favorites of mine.

We’ll be back in Patapo in January to visit Cecelia at the pronoei. With luck we’ll run into Señora Muñoz. I could do with another plate of her fried pork and entertaining stories.

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