This variety of Sechium edule is a vegetable that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae familiy (along with pumpkins and melons). The most important part of the plant is the fruit, which is green, shiny and slightly spiky. Old varieties of guatilas, or ‘poor potatoes’ as they are often called, can be almost black and white in color. The young leaves and tuberous roots are edible, but are not as commonly used. Farmers used to eat guatilas cooked in soups, but they can be cooked using almost any technique. They contain several amino acids and are considered a good cholesterol controller. They were always an appreciated product for the indigenous people in the Andean regions in Colombia, but slowly, especially in recent years, this variety has lost its importance in the everyday diet. It is considered a poor food, and some people even used it as feed for pigs, despite the fact that today it is recommended by nutritionists for its healthy qualities. Guatilas can be found for sale in regional markets and urban markets. However, due to influences of globalization, the way people eat in these areas has changed. Guatilas were a traditional product that have lost their importance in the last few years, and so fewer farmers are growing them and they are not as abundant in markets in general.Photo: Juan Camilo Quintero Merchan
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.