A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru

By Louis Baudin; Katherine Woods et al. | Go to book overview

7
Demand

Capitalism can be seriously threatened only by a great ascetic movement that will permeate the masses and divorce them from the vices and luxuries to which they have been accustomed for a century.

-- Ferrero, Discours aux sourds

However perfect statistical tables may be, they are not enough, in a socialist society, to compensate for the mechanism of the pricing process unless demand is simplified to the utmost. This was precisely the case in Peru, where the needs of the population were very limited, and the Incas contrived to prevent them from increasing.1 Not only were the Incas' subjects satisfied with very little food, but their manner of preparing and cooking it remained primitive, and they were forbidden to introduce any changes in their cuisine. Maize was eaten roasted or boiled, sometimes with a seasoning of herbs or red pepper; on exceptional occasions it served to make the bread and cakes for festivals and sacrifices.2 To grind the grain, the women would place it on a broad slab and crush it with a heavy stone muller, long, narrow, and semicircular in shape, which they would hold at each end and rock back and forth over the kernels. The leaves of the maize plant were used as vegetables, and the unripened seeds yielded a sort of oil.

Fresh meat was hardly ever eaten except on special holidays. Generally the flesh of animals was cut into thin strips that would be salted and allowed to dry in the sun for preservation; it was then known as charqui.*

____________________
*
[This is the origin of the English term "jerked meat." -- EDITOR.]

-95-

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