The 30th of May Peru celebrates the National Day of the Potato in recognition of this tuber that originated in Peru, has had an enormous influence on the rest of the world, and continues to be a pillar of Peruvian agriculture and the Peruvian diet.
Since the Spanish first removed the spud from Peru and took it to other lands the potato has entered many of the world’s cuisines as an important and often basic ingredient. But here, in its native land, it is more than a food. It is sacred.
The potato is the mother of Andean civilization, a gift from the Mother Earth herself. To grasp its importance, all one has to do is go to any regional market and see the bag after bag of potatoes in different colors and shapes. In addition one can eat almost any dish and notice how omnipresent the potato is. Indeed in Peru, to eat is to eat potatoes.
These days in Cuzco, when cold sears the earth at night and the sun bakes it during daylight, people in rural areas are opening the earth and lifting potatoes to take to market or store for their own consumption.
At the same time, many people are getting ready to travel to the mountain of Ausangate for the pilgrimage to the snows, called Qoyllurrit’i and many others are getting ready for the massive and sumptuous feast of Corpus Christi, which though Catholic in name, builds on Ancient Andean rituals at this time of the harvest and the impending solstice.
Throughout Cuzco, people are making ovens of earthen clods, firing them and then collapsing them on top of potatoes to cook them well in the earth from which they came, called huatia. Nothing is better to celebrate this National Day of the Potato than to similarly celebrate and eat a hot, baked potato fresh from the earth.
Below is are links to the articles we have published in Cuzco Eats on Potatoes.