PNC Students Host an “Andean Thanksgiving”

By: Purdue University Northwest Last Updated: November 13, 2012

Pachamanca-Andrean-Food-PrepPurdue University North Central student Melissa McCall, of Kouts, and Dr. Kenneth Kincaid, assistant professor of History, earned an Indiana Campus Compact Community Service Mini-Grant which they used to present an Andean Thanksgiving in the community.

McCall, a Liberal Studies major and a Latin American Studies minor, is a student in Kincaid's Indigenous Heritage in Latin America class. As students in the class learned about Pachamanca, a type of Andean food preparation that is a celebration of community and the earth's bounty, they decided that this was a great opportunity to organize an "Andean Thanksgiving."

The PNC students will share their Andean Thanksgiving experience with students at Yost Elementary in Porter, Scott Middle School in Hammond and the Valparaiso International Center.

The class decided to call their experience an Andean Thanksgiving because they wanted to bring together the best qualities of the North American Thanksgiving tradition - a cornucopia of the earth's bounty with the fellowship of community and family - with the similar Pachamanca experience.

The PNC students worked with members of the region's Peruvian community to host a demonstration of Pachamanca cooking. Pachamanca translates to "earthen pot." It was developed by indigenous Peruvian people as an adaptation to an often brutal environment and geography.

Pachamanca cooking creates a natural pressure cooker. It takes place in a hole about three to four feet in diameter and about three feet deep and lined with paper or cloth. Hot river rocks heated over a fire are placed in the hole. Layers are made with rocks, banana leaves, meats, banana leaves, rocks, meats, banana leaves, rocks, three types of potatoes, sweet potatoes, banana leaves, rocks, corn, habas (Lima beans) and so on. The final layer is topped with a burlap sack or canvas and sealed with earth.

Pachamanca cooking requires a team effort and must be done quickly to keep the rocks from cooling.

Enjoying the Pachamanca feast were the PNC students and their families, along with members of Peruvian community and families, board members of Valparaiso International Center and other guests.

The entire event was filmed so that it could be shared with students at Yost Elementary School in Porter on Nov. 21, at Scott Middle School in Hammond on Nov. 27 and will be presented as part of the Fourth Friday Series at the Valparaiso International Center on Nov. 30.

While the Yost students will not have to opportunity to sample food from the Pachamanca, the PNC students will bring some Peruvian treats to share. During their visit, the PNC students will explain that the notion of Thanksgiving is universal while showing how people often have to adapt to harsh environments.