Cancha Gimme More? Peruvian Corn Nuts

Corn nuts in the U.S. are a popular snack. Trader Joe’s sells Giant Peruvian Inca Corn, which are noticeably bigger than regular store-bought kinds. Before the trip to Peru, I read about the giant white corn known as choclo and wondered if this is what Peruvians use to make these nibbles. That’s what I expected to see throughout the country. It was a surprise then that Peru’s is not like our corn nuts.

The snack is called cancha. In their most common form, the shape of the kernel is slender, made from maiz chulpe. They have a light crunchiness and end up with a starchy feel in the mouth. They were served to me and my wife at Arequipa’s Pisco Museum and with ceviché in a cooking class in Lima. At the many stalls along the walkway to Las Salineras in Maras, the mix shown above included choclo and chulpe to be sprinkled with the wonderful salts mined from the nearby salt pans that date back to the Incas.


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