Humble, trailing dirt, the potato is the heart of Peruvian cuisine and its civilization. It is not the majestic corn, rising towards the clouds like a sunburst of gold or a crown on a nobleman’s head. Still, it is a miracle, even if one that grows hidden in the ground.
Potatoes originated in the Andes and Peru still holds a diversity that makes almost a the rest of the world’s potatoes look like a paltry and tattered sum. The treasure remains in Peru (and neighboring countries). It is greater than anything found in precious metals. The International Potato Center keeps a bank of potato diversity should it ever be needed in the future and that make Peru one of the keepers of the world’s future.
This humble tuber, rising from the soil, has had more impact on the world than almost any other and it remains important as a staple today. It is a total package of nutrition and yet is so light and satisfying.
In order to promote recognition of potatoes and to promote awareness of their nutritional value, Perú declared May 30th as the Day of Native Potatoes and events throughout the country will honor this simple tuber that made Machu Picchu and the great monuments of the country.
The words “native potatoes” are important. The day honors not only the potato, which increasingly, even in Peru, is produced in improved forms which are commercially farmed and yet represent a tiny fraction of the country’s diversity of colors, flavors, and ecological riches in potatoes.
Indeed, indigenous communities harbor an amazing rage of varieties adapted to specific locations within their range of fields and often found no where else.
This day is set to recognize and value them so they do not join the already far too large list of varieties no longer found.
Honor the potato today and enjoy some of its riches.