We know Peru around the world for its potato and corn varieties. But did you know that, for example, the avocado and tomato have their origin in Peru as well? And the country is home to many other internationally nearly unknown vegetables. Most of them have been cultivated and consumed since ancient times, being an important part of the traditional Peruvian cuisine. Quite a few of these ancient veggies bring remarkable properties, making local dishes not only super delicious but healthy as well.
Potatoes were domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago in the High Andes of southeastern Peru and northwestern Bolivia. During centuries the Papa developed to be an important staple food and a primary energy source for early Peruvian cultures.
The Camote is distantly related to the potato and its English name is "Sweet Potato". As engravings and paintings on Moche ceramics proof the Camote is part of the Peruvian cuisine for nearly two thousand years. Today we know over 2000 varieties of sweet potatoes.
The Avocado has a long history of cultivation in Peru. One of the oldest findings regarding Paltas in the country were made in the pre-Incan city of Chan-Chan. In Peru mainly a green type of Avocado is produced which is native to the country.
Caihua, known as well as Caigua or Stuffing Cucumber, was likely domesticated in the Andes and consumed by various ancient cultures. Belonging to the pumpkin family it has a teardrop to elongated shape.
The yuca, a starchy tuberous root called also manioc, not to be confused with the yucca, is native to South America und was a staple food for many pre-Columbian cultures in Peru. The cassava, as yuca is known in English, was often depicted in indigenous art, like on Moche ceramics.
Yacon is native to South America and grown in the Andes for centuries. Also known as Peruvian Ground Apple Yacon was consumed by ancient cultures incl. the Incas on a regular basis. The outside of these sweet tasting tubers is tan, brownish or even purple brown.
Mashua, also known as añu, is a root vegetable indigenous to the Andean highlands and cultivated since ancient times. The tubers vary in size and shape. Mashua can be white or yellow; some varieties are even red or purple on the outside.
Ollucos have their origin the high plains of the Peruvian Andes and are cultivated since pre-Columbian times. Next to potatoes and corn this root vegetable was an important staple food of the Incas. They come in different shapes and sizes, but usually look like a potato.
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In loving memory of "Jack" & "Lola"