10,000 varieties of potatoes!
As Swiss citizens we are used to eat a lot of Potatoes back in Switzerland. Our preferred dishes are Roesti and simple cooked potato with cheese. Btina knows amazingly well how to cook a perfect Roesti. I need to take a picture of it the next one :-)
The Potato diversity in Bolivia is unique. Bolivia has one of the biggest potato diversity in the world. Over 10,000 varieties of potatoes! They call it “Papas” instead of “Patata” like in Spain which is something one has to get used to when traveling or living in Latin America. “Papas” comes from the Quechua language and was a common word used during the time of the Incas.
Image: Dwarf red and yellow colored Potatoes in a market in Santa Cruz
The origin of the Potato is in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia, where they were domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago.
Potatoes are edible plant tubers (underground) first cultivated in the mountain region of the Andes in South America. Spanish explorers brought the potato back to Europe from their South American expeditions in the early 16th century. Back then they believed that the Potato was completely inedible and even poisonous.
There is also a intersting theorie on that not the Spaniards but another Empire first discovered the sweet potato in South America. Archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting the following hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.—nearly 500 years before Columbus’s first voyage. What’s more, the word for “sweet potato” in many Polynesian languages closely resembles the Quechua word for the plant. Source: Wired Sweet potato exploration
Health benefits of Potatoes
Potatoes are a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Potatoes are important to the health of Quechua communities because they contain a high level of antioxidants. “In the countryside, we do not have many illnesses because there are different types of potato for every sickness”.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Increasing consumption of plant foods like potatoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
- Bone health
- Blood pressure
- Heart health
- Digestion and regularity
- Weight management and satiety
Image: Fresh potatoes at the market in Rurrenabaque in Bolivia
Image: Even big supermarkets provide a variation of Potatoes in Bolivia. From very big to super small Potatoes you will find everything.
Home made dishes with Potatoes
Image: Home made Potatoes in the in the frying pan – simple and delicious.
Image: Home made Roesti – Swiss recipe
Image: Sliced potatoes cooked in the oven with avocado guacamole