Peruvian combo plate: from lower left, clockwise: Cau-cau, rice, Olluquito with charqui and chanfainita (diced beef lung with potatoes)
Charqui or charque, is a form of jerky common in South America made from dried and salted meat, originally llama where this animal roamed, nowadays mostly beef. Llama is still widely used in Bolivia. This curing was done so the meat could be stored for a long period. This was a very popular way to preserve meat in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Brazil. It was industrialized in charqueadas, also named saladeros (in Uruguay).
When encountered by the Spanish, the Inca Empire supplied tambo (inns) along the Inca road system with llama jerky so that travelers would have something to eat. The Inca used a freeze drying process that took advantage of both the cold dry mountain air and strong sun in their homeland.
The Quechua word charqui is the origin of the word jerky. It is also spelled Charki.