It is tradition in Cusco to have a feast of 12 plates either on Thursday or Friday of Holy Week or Semana Santa as it’s called in Spanish. Traditionally, it was done on Thursday, the day before Christ was crucified, in accordance with Jesus´s Last Supper with his disciples. However, some families celebrate the feast of the 12 plates of Friday Viernes Santo so that the whole family can attend. Families in Peru congregate to remember Christ´s sacrifice and gather around the table to fellowship together.
The 12 plates are diverse, but meat is not allowed because most people are doing a red meat fast in honor of Christ. Usually there are 6 salty dishes and 6 sweet dishes, and these dishes vary among families depending on their preferences.
Many families use typical grains, such as quinoa, rice, and corn to prepare the dishes. Fish is also a common dish on this day because it is a substitute for red meat. Eating fish on Good Friday is also quite symbolic because Jesus and many of his disciples were fishermen.
Soups are also served as a dish on Good Friday. Many of them are made with shrimp, corn, rice, or pumpkin: the famous Peruvian ‘chupe de camerones’. Other dishes include anything made with vegetables, eggs, grains, and any other food besides red meat!
As for dessert, Peruvians go ´´all-out.´´ There are puddings galore, stewed peaches, meringues, sweet empanadas, and many more options. Needless to say that any sweet tooth will be happy as a clam on the day of the The 12 Plates of Holy Week in Cusco, Peru!
The feast of the 12 Plates of Holy Week in Cusco is a beautiful expression of faith and remembrance of Christ´s sacrifice for us. Many people all around Peru will be celebrating with family and friends around the table. Not only is it a wonderful religious tradition, but it also provides good time with family and many plates of delicious Peruvian food!