The Tuti año or izaño is an elongated tuber with a pointed end, which is cultivated in the Tuti region, in the district of the Arequipa department of southern Peru. A small año weighs about 80 grams, while a big one can be up to 150 grams. After harvesting, the tubers should be left along for a week before boiling them, which is what gives them their typical sweet flavor. There are several varieties of this product: yellow (the sweetest), white (a bit less sweet), black (mealier), red, blue, and pink.
The tubers are planted in October and harvested in May. After harvest they can be conserved for up to five months, after which the taste becomes too bitter.
In the past this tuber was an integral part of the daily diet in Tuti, and as such there are many traditional recipes that use it. The first is the hiro de año, in which it is cooked with onions, garlic, ajì, and tomatoes. To this are added milk, cheese, and bits of aromatic herbs, and the whole thing is eaten with rice. One sweet dish is the mazamorra de año: the tuber is boiled and then mashed, and you add cinnamon, cloves, sugar, and milk and then set to boil for a few minutes.
The año can also be fried, but only after having been boiled. The most particular way to taste this plant, directly after harvest, is known as huatia. With the dirt that is broken up during harvest you make a small oven in the field in which these tubers are cooked, along with potatoes, fava beans, Indian pig meat, or even trout.
The inhabitants of Tuti, for example, are known as those who conserve año in black cloth, in reference to their habit of conserving the boiled tuber in darkly colored wrappings to help maintain the heat. Locals used to trade this product with Cabanita corn, which is cultivated in the lower lying areas.
These highlands wer perfect for the tuber’s cultivation, as diseases didn’t attack them and a large quantity of products were grown. The año grown in this area is known as the best there is, thanks to its unparalleled flavor that it takes on only in these fields. Today these tubers only take up about two or three percent of the total field space available, whereas in the past it was half. This product cannot be found on the market and is only cultivated for personal consumption. The reasons for its growing abandonment are tied to the fallen market value; this convinced the farmers to dedicate themselves to activities that are less prone to climate change, freezing spells, and drought. A further threat to this historic tuber is the reduced consumption by young people who prefer instead to eat less traditional foods.