THE WHITE MILL AND THE FALL OF THE GRINDING IN AREQUIPA
The Chili Valley, the Socabaya Valley and many others, particularly in the eastern part of the province (Quequeña, Yarabamba, Sogay, Pocsi, etc.) were ancestrally producing areas of corn, to the point of being practically a monoculture, production that was oriented mostly for the exchange with the Altiplano, a fact that would explain, for example, the etymology of names such as Characato, a probable derivation of the words sara (“corn” in both Quechua and Aymara languages) and c’ato (“market” or “space for exchange” in the Aymara language), which clearly show strong economic activity around this crop).
This reality remained so after the arrival of the Europeans and even well into the Viceroyalty, but new crops appeared that rival corn in terms of production volume, especially the cultivation of wheat as it is the main ingredient for bread. Corn is still cultivated mainly for the production of “chicha”, in which Arequipa stands out clearly over other regions, giving an account of this the curious fact that the chronicler Ventura Trabada offers us when you affirm that in the city and its surroundings there was an astonishing figure of 3 000 “chicherías”.
For the processing of both products, both chicha and corn, mills were necessary and therefore their number was relatively abundant, so we have, to cite some of the most emblematic examples, the Mill of San Juan, which enjoys a very long tradition since that its construction was ordered already at the dawn of the city by the manager Diego Hernández and has maintained its activity, although in a very different way, until today, being today an industrial facility: The SIDSUR – ALICORP plant.
There is also the well-known Sabandía Mill, with its more than 400 years of history and which thanks to a notable effort was practically rebuilt by private capital and today offered in unbeatable conditions to tourism.
We can consider the Tambo de la Cabezona within the list of mills since, in parallel and even prior to the role of dairy farm, it was also a place of corn milling in order to obtain mainly starch as a final product.