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Papa - potato - pomme de terre!

Updated on December 14, 2011
International Year of the Potato 2008
International Year of the Potato 2008
Papa amarilla (yellow potato)
Papa amarilla (yellow potato)
Potatoes in different sizes, shapes and colors!
Potatoes in different sizes, shapes and colors!
I am Peruvian!
I am Peruvian!

As you probably know the potato comes originally from Peru, where they have over 3,000 different varieties! It is the fourth largest crop in the country and the United Nations considered them so important, that they even declared 2008 the Year of the Potato!

My favourite variety of potato is what in Peru they call Papa Amarilla, or yellow potato. The papa amarilla is relatively small in size and they really are kind of yellow in colour, just perfect for making mashed potatoes!

La Papa is the word for potato in Spanish, not to be confused with El Papa , which is the Pope! Potatoes are the world's fourth largest food crop, after rice, wheat, and maize. One always thinks of the Chinese as rice growers, but the truth is that China now has the largest potato crop in the world!

Lomo saltado
Lomo saltado
Papa a la Huancana
Papa a la Huancana
Papa rellena
Papa rellena
Potato ceramic from the Moche culture. Larco Museum Collection
Potato ceramic from the Moche culture. Larco Museum Collection
One of Ginou Choueiri's potato faces
One of Ginou Choueiri's potato faces

Potatoes in Peruvian cuisine

The Peruvian Cuisine naturally contains the potato as primary ingredient in many of its dishes. Some of the more famous ones include Papa a la huancaína and Papa rellena . French-fried potatoes are also a typical ingredient, for example, in the classic Lomo Saltado dish.

Potatoes in art

Potatoes has been so prevalent in Peruvian food, that even Pre-Inca cultures featured them in their ceramics! They have also made their appearance in modern art and Ginou Choueiri has chosen the potato to portray the human face due to the many striking parallels between the two: the porosity of the skin, the similarity of colour, and also the fact that like people, they come in different shapes and sizes. He has made portraits of friends, family, people he has come across, as well as politicians and pop stars.

Potato peeling!

When I was a kid my grandmother always told me to peel potatoes when they were still warm, so I thought about her when I saw the video below, where they show an easier way of peeling them!

An easier way to peel potatoes!

Animated Cheryl Wheeler and the Spudding Taternacle Choir!

Blight on the horizon!

In the villages of Andean Peru, nothing is more important than the potato. But the weather is warming there, opening the door to blight, a plant disease that led to famine and death in Ireland many years ago. 

Potato vs sweet potato

The English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain). The Spanish Royal Academy however, says the Spanish word is a compound of the Taino batata (sweet potato) and the Quechua papa (potato). This probably indicates that originally, the potato was regarded as a type of sweet potato rather than the other way around, despite the fact that there is actually no close relationship between the two plants at all.

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