Ark of taste
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It is a herbaceous plant belonging to the family of Baselaceae, its most interesting part being its edible tuber, green to pink in color. Somewhat smaller than potato and smooth, it is usually called smooth potatoes and it is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. Its fresh leaves can be eaten as well. The plant is propagated from its tuber, and producers, during development, usually raise the ground level around the stem. It takes between 180 to 220 days for ulluco to mature. Tuber extraction is done by hand; mechanization in harvesting seems feasible, but difficult, because of the plant’s sensitivity to cutting. The tuber can be stored up to a year in a dark, cool, dry place. Ulluco is mostly eaten boiled. The skin is thin and easily removable, but it can be consumed along with the pulp. The tuber is used whole as a garnish, grated, mashed, or ground to thicken soups and stews. It is also made into preserves and, in the Andean traditional cooking, into a kind of potato flour. Its leaves are rich in calcium and carotene, and are used in salads and soups or to replace spinach. Some women think that eating ulluco can facilitate the birth of babies. Ulluco is a native plant of the Andean region. It has been cultivated since pre-Hispanic times and it grows through the Andes of South America, from Venezuela to northern Argentina, especially in the Jujuy province. Historically it is associated with the indigenous culture. Ceramic representations show that the domestication was pre-Hispanic, and the oldest known remains have been found in jars of starch. This was one of the basic crops for indigenous peoples but, with the passing of time, its consumption declined. One of the problems standing out today is the lack of knowledge about this product and its preparatin among the population. Those still consuming it obtain it mainly through barter, though it is still possible to buy it in some markets. In Argentina, for example, ulluco tubers are commonly sold during the winter in the markets of Jujuy and Salta. They can also be found in some Federal Capital markets, but the product remains unavailable in all the rest of the country.

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Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Nominated by:Chef Diego Fernandez, House of Jasmines, Relais & Chateaux