Ark of taste
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Cun, or yota, is a tuber that is similar to achín (or papa china) found in the Nariño region, in western Colombia. The medium-sized, heart-shaped leaves have a delicate stem and a small to medium-sized, irregularly-shaped, edible rhizome.

The rhizome is eaten in the region for its delicate flavor, its versatile texture in cooking and because it can be used to make a flour that is perfect for preparing meatballs and soups. While the outer skin is dark brown, the inner flesh is an almost white, light yellow. In many households cun flour is used instead of cornstarch as a thickener in sauces and soups. This tuber is also often used to prepare desserts, dough or simply as a garnish.

In the municipality of Los Andes Sotomayor, particularly in the village of Pangús, many family stories demonstrate that this product is an integral part of the community’s food customs. There is no accurate information about how it came to be found in the region, but what is certain is that cun has adapted perfectly to the local soil and climate, so it is probably a local variety.

As it is easy to grow, this plant grows in household gardens. This has ensured that it has always been a readily available, cheap product, which has, over time, become closely linked to local food culture.
Information about how the product is sown and harvested essentially comes from the oral tradition of the residents of Pangús, who still grow the product to this day. There are no official figures on annual quantities or how widespread its cultivation is. It is not found on sale at markets, as it is only grown for family consumption. As adults and elderly people who know how to grow it gradually pass away, cun is potentially facing extinction within a few generations. At the same time, the lack of interest among young people and children in tubers of this kind means that this traditional product is becoming less common in the community’s food customs.

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