Potato, Potatoe – Solanum Tuberosum

If you are a potato lover, Peru is the place to visit. Peru is the land of potatoes and it is said Peru has around 4000 different types of potatoes, and it is easy to see because comparing to many other countries, for example grocery stores sell a lot of different types of potatoes. The potatoes have different colour, size, texture, skin and taste, but all of them have their own purpose in the Peruvian cuisine.

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Four most popular potatoes in Peru

1. Papa Amarilla
Papa Amarillas have a brownish skin and yellow or butter colour flesh. It is best to use for making a creamy potato mash.
2. Papa Blanca
Papa Blancas are light brown from outside and the flesh is pale white. The best way to cook them is frying or boiling.
3. Papa Canchan
Papa Canchans have a pink skin and the flesh is white. They are normally used in stews and soups.
4. Papa Negra
Papa Negra have a black or dark brown skin and the flesh is light yellow. It is good for almost all the Peruvian dishes.

And one unordinary one is Chuño, it is a freeze dried potato, it is left outside during the frosty nights and during the day it is exposed to sunlight. This process dehydrates the potato and turns it black. Chuños can be stored for 10-15 years.

! The word papa actually comes from Quechua and it means tuber.

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The cultivation of potato has gone far from the ancient times. The cultivation of potatoes started somewhere between 7000 and 10 000 year ago in the Andes Region. The wild potatoes were a bit toxic and had a bitter taste therefore it took a while to recognise the best cultivar to develop the less toxic and better taste potato.  The potatoes where the main source of energy for Incas, Spanish conquerors and the early Peruvian cultures. It is believed the sailors brought the potato to Europe when they returned from Peru. It took a long time before potato was accepted as a crop in Europe but nowadays it is an important crop.

Potatoes are used in many different occasions. Some of them are just meant to be eaten and fuel the body but some of them are used to cure different diseases because it is believed there is one potato for each disease. Potatoes are valuable commodity to trade in the high Andes for other crops which grow in lower altitudes, for example quinoa. Potatoes are also used in various cultural events, for example one Quechua traditions is when a couple is going to get married, the mother of the man gives a knobby potato which resembles a pine cone, for the daughter-in-law and she needs to peel the potato carefully if she peels the potato too much she is not allowed to get married.

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Laura

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