Legend has it that when the first Inca, Manco Cápac, and his wife, Mama Ocllo, emerged from Lake Titicaca to build their empire, the great god Wircocha’s first instructions were to plant corn in the lowlands and potatoes on the high plains. Originating from the central Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, potatoes are farmed across these mountains and symbolize the agriculture and gastronomy of the people who live there. While in Europe and North America cultivation of potatoes is primarily of just one species, Solanum tuberosum, in the Andes there are eight species of potatoes that farmers have selected for color, shape, and flavor and diversified into some 900 varieties.
From this enormous array, the Presidium has selected a handful of varieties of Solanum stenotomum that are most interesting from an agricultural and gastronomical point of view, in order to focus the project on promotion of lesser-known varieties with good production potential. Among the varieties chosen are the mactillo, a long, floury and flavorful potato with a violet skin and white, violet-streaked flesh; the pitiquiña, which produces light blue flowers and has yellow flesh and deep eyes on the skin; the choclluscha, which has bright red skin and veins of the same color running through the flesh; and the chapiña, which has black skin and black and light blue flesh. Of the four varieties, the last two are particularly suitable for frying.
A small workshop has also been set up in Cusco to produce Presidium potato chips. The producers travel to Cusco to make the chips themselves: Potatoes are washed and peeled by hand, sliced, fried, dried using absorbent paper, and packed in 75-gram cardboard boxes. With the support of the Slow Food Foundation, the quality of the chips has been improved through the purchase of new equipment for each stage of the production process, and through training sessoions from a food technologist for young Presidium producers. The Presidium will continue to collaborate with the producers to improve the quality and expand the market.
Quechua, Suni, and Puno regions in the Lares Valley, Calca Province, Cusco Region
Asociación Nacional de Productores Ecológicos
Moisés Quispe Quispe
tel. +511 4724828 /84235802