The Incans managed some pretty incredible feats in their heyday. Advanced mathematics, astronomy, roadways that crossed a continent, and, oh yeah, Machu Picchu. But the food-minded among us should thank them for one thing above all: the pachamanca.
From the native Quechua language, pachamanca translates to "earth" (pacha) and "pot" (manca); for the rest of us, let's translate it as "awesome underground barbecue." Essentially, Peruvians dig a hole in the ground, then layer fire-heated rocks in it to fashion an earthen oven. Banana leaf–wrapped parcels filled with meats, corn, potatoes and more bake inside. (Other versions layer meats and vegetables directly in the oven, but these little packets keep things much tidier.)
As with the best barbecue, each one emerges smoky and falling-apart tender. And as with many barbecues, the pachamanca is a community event—either a celebratory meal, or sometimes is itself cause for celebration.