Breakfast for the nobility and members of the ruling family would be different preparations made from corn sweetened with honey collected from the mountain hives or sweetened with sugarcane, a wide variety of forest fruits and nuts, and porridge made from wheat or barley.
For lunch, they would eat potatoes, an edible root crop called oca, and a staple grain called quinoa. Quinoa is very rich in protein and carbohydrates. To these they added green leafy vegetables, squash, sweet potatoes and beans (either dried or fresh from the pod).
For dinner they would eat a soup made from rice or corn mixed with various vegetables, fruits and a warm beverage made from corn.
And so it follows that this was also the kind of diet implemented to all. Present scientific knowledge confirms that this kind of a diet (a high-complex carbohydrate diet) indeed is the healthiest and gives long-sustained energy.
“Meat-eating was practically unheard of. It just was not part of the advanced Inca culture as well as the other existing advanced Indian civilizations in Peru at that time. Meat eating was considered backwards. It’s like, as far as the Indians were concerned, nobody in their right mind would feed on animal flesh!!” exclaims Jorge. Basic social ethics of the Incas include no unnecessary violence and honest, fair dealing. Forest animals, birds and other creatures were protected and treated like citizens of the empire.
The emperor also had the duty of preventing the nobles from taking advantage of the commoners. So the basic formula for success of the Incas in maintaining such a vast, wealthy empire was that the strong and powerful did not take advantage of the weak and helpless. The emperor did not rule out of sheer hunger for power and wealth. Rather, he was both a strong military leader and able administrator who managed the empire efficiently with a genuine concern for its people’s well being.
“Meat eating was considered backwards. It’s like, as far as the Indians were concerned, nobody in their right mind would feed on animal flesh!”
South-American Traditional Food Diary: Peru