Food Culture

The Wonders of Cuzco’s Potatoes

Huayro Potato from Cuzco (Photo: Walter Coraza)

The food we eat more than any other in Cuzco is potatoes. It is found in the whole variety of dishes that forms our typical cuisine. It is also used in our most nourishing lunches, which are the delicious lunch of chuño, the lunch of wheat berries (trigo moron), the lunch of chaquepa (cracked wheat), and more.

We have a lot of variety of potatoes. They come in different sizes, colors, and flavors. Each has different function and specific dishes with which it goes best. Here are some of the names of the potatoes produced in our area, with its provinces: papa wayro, papa canchán, la papa mariva, la papa seca, la papa compis, la papa peruanita, la papa ojos rojos, and others.

This variety of potatoes is why our dishes are so delicious and why they have the taste and their own unique combination. This food is amazingly flexible and it must always be present in all our dishes. It gives a great quantity of vitamins, proteins, and satisfies our hunger with its floury texture and its taste.

The peruanita potato and the mariva are the most floury. These potatoes are most used for our mashed potatoes. We make it by mashing the potatoes with a bit of butter along with other touches by each cook. We often serve it accompanied by white rice.

Variety of Potatoes for Sale in the Market (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Variety of Potatoes for Sale in the Market (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

The compis potato is one of the most used potatoes. It finds itself in more lunches and main dishes than most other tubers. For example, it is used in the wonderful chicken stew, which is made with a combination of dressings (aderezos) and is served accompanied by boiled potatoes and the ever present white rice.

The red-eyed potato (papa ojos rojos) gets its name from the small eyelets in its body. We only use it to make fried potatoes, the same as the papa canchán.

In the highlands, the mamachas, traditional women, from those zones make every day a wonderful concoction. They fry up fresh caught trout and serve it with small papas peruanitas. Only travelers get to try this delicious food.

Finally, this wonderful food given to us by our mother earth, potatoes, can also be used to heal. It has a medicinal purpose. We use it to heal blows to the body. The potatoes are cut into thin slices that are placed on top of the damaged part of the body so that they can absorb the blow and in this way make the bruises disappear.

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