I first heard the word "chicha" a few years ago when the folks behind one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head, traveled to Peru and back to make their version of the traditional beverage. You might have heard of this stuff before: chewing and spitting out corn is part of the process of making some times of this traditional drink. Enzymes in human saliva turn the starches in the corn into fermentable sugars, ready for brewing. Chicha morada, on the other hand, is not fermented, and is made by boiling purple corn with spices and pineapple rind.
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The most famous version of chicha gets made with masticated corn (as in, chewed up and spat out), but travel through the Andean countries of South America and you're bound to come across any number of variations of this drink. In Quichua communities in Ecuador, just on the edge of the Amazon Basin, they make a lightly-fermented version of chicha out of boiled yuca that they drink at almost every meal.