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Horno de barro antiguo

Ancient Ovens from Siguas

The oven as a myth. It can be seen in ruins, mimicking a Wari ruin, converted into a tomb, assaulted by a hornet legion that takes advantage of human abandonment and makes it its refuge. It forms part of steep paths, of reddish rocks, of roadsides. Sometimes it reveals a minimal history, the human footprint in a field ravaged by the river floods, the proof that there was once fire and grain.

At other times it turns to dust, and is no longer distinguishable from a pirqa (pre-Columbian road traces) or an almost destroyed settlement. Rarely does it remain intact. If this is the case, it is enough to gather the firewood from the pruning (be it fig, pacay or molle), take two hours to prepare the oven and reactivate dead meanings. The result will be whole wheat bread, mestizo breads, Hutzelbrot or bucelatums. With the embers already consumed, it will keep warm for several days -ideal for baking apples and figs–.

Until someone invokes the myth again, another 10 years may pass, the grains may disappear –or refined flours may arrive from overseas–. New colonies of wasps will make the oven their home, as long as some human whim does not impose itself, preferring to reduce it to rubble in order to use its stones for construction. 10, 20 years may pass until someone decides to turn it on to bake bread made of wheat, barley and rye.

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The Mestizo Bread: Whole wheat flour (Mentana and Candeal varieties), fennel seed and lard.

These old stone ovens are traces of one of the oldest whole wheat bread traditions in South America and were part of the food system in Siguas (South Peru).


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