January’s pick for our “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series is Peru!! Let’s learn about the history of Peruvian potatoes, and taste them in a great dish!
Do you know where the potato is originally from? The Andes Mountains in South America! Scientists have found potatoes in the area of Lake Titicaca, where they believe they were farmed as early as 10,000 years ago. The Andes Mountains are the longest mountain range on the planet (5500 mi!) with active volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, and landslides. Can you find the Andes on a map? How do you imagine the climate is in the high mountains, at that distance from the equator? The climate is cold because the air is too thin to hold heat, and the conditions are harsh at the high altitudes.
Potatoes grew well despite the conditions and over many years, potatoes became one of the most important foods in early Peruvian culture. In fact, there are close to 4000 varieties of potatoes in Peru! Each of the different sizes, shapes, colors, skin, texture, and pulp change the taste slightly and allow the different potatoes to be used in distinct recipes.
When the Spaniards came, they borrowed the name “papa” (the Quechua word for “tuber”) and brought back potatoes to Spain and England around 1570. It took almost a century for this bizarre new food to be accepted, but eventually Europe accepted it and it became so important that it helped to reduce famines in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today potatoes are found around the world!
The potato was part of what is called the “Columbian Exchange:” following the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Columbian Exchange is the exchange of plants, animals, culture, people, ideas, and diseases between the Eastern and Western hemispheres (see this great map of the Columbian Exchange!).
Recipe: Peruvian Potatoes with Ocopa Sauce
This ocopa sauce served with boiled or roasted potatoes is typical in Arequipa, in Southern Peru. There are many different versions of this recipe, but this recipe was shared with me by Elvia Alma, who was raised in Chincheros, Apurímac.
Gather your ingredients:
black mint/ huacatay
white cheese/ queso blanco
roasted peanuts/ mani tostado
olive oil/ aceite olivo
Goya adobo seasoning
boiled or roasted yellow or white potatoes with salt and pepper
whole, boiled eggs
Other recipes also include sauteed onions and garlic, evaporated milk, and another common ingredient are saltine crackers! (to thicken if you use the evaporated milk). If you cannot get an ingredient, make a substitution:). No worries!
1. Prepare your Peruvian potatoes either by boiling or roasting. Boil your eggs in cold water for 12 minutes (then rinse in cold water).
2. Add jalapeno (optional- I usually remove seeds/veins for my kids), black mint/ huacatay, white cheese (queso blanco), roasted peanuts (mani tostado), olive oil (aceite olivo), and 1 T of Goya adobo seasoning to blender and pureé until smooth. Add salt as needed.
3. Slice the potatoes into small rounds. Prepare on a plate: potatoes, then the sauce, and then the garnishes of sliced hard boiled eggs and olives.
This is the 11th month in this year’s season of “Around the World in 12 Dishes.” This year we have chosen the following countries:
We are inviting our readers to participate in our culinary adventure!
We have a coloring placemat and a 4 page passportwith lots of fun information for each country, plus questions, a spot for a photo of you and your dish, and space to put your own recipe! Each country will also have its own linky, where you can link up your own related posts- we would love to see your posts!
Adventures In Mommydom, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Creative Family Fun, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Juggling with Kids, Kid World Citizen, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It, The Hands-On Homeschooler, and Afterschool for Smarty Pants.
Visit the following links to see how other families are learning about Peru, and please share your adventures learning about Peru here: