Written by Preeti Verma Lal
Before you step into Peru, recap your counting skills and brush up the colour palette. You’ll need to count 3,000 different varieties of potatoes and nearly 60 types of corn. Peruvian potatoes come in countless colours and unimaginable shapes, Blue, Purple, Yellow, Pink, Brown, White, Black, Long, Short, Stout, Elongated, Tiny, Fat, Skinny, Corns are white, orange, purple, black. Do not argue when the locals tell you to chew cocoa leaves to beat high-altitude sickness. Learn from them the freeze-drying method to preserve potato for a decade or more. Listen carefully about all the uses of ‘yucca’ — fry them as side dish; use it as hair shampoo or wash the sheep’s wool with the grated tuber.
Ancient Peruvian sure knew how to rustle scrumptiousness in the kitchen. Nearly 10,000 years ago, potatoes were domesticated in Peru; in Moray, there’s an ancient terraced farmland that was used as a laboratory to grow varieties of corn. The Incans invented the freeze-drying method to preserve food and categorised chillies according to their heat.
In Peru, ceviche is the menu-lord. A dish of marinated raw fish or seafood, ceviche originated in Peru 2,000 years ago. Traditionally, sea bass was the main ingredient of Peruvian ceviche served with cornon-the-cob and slices of cooked sweet potato on the side. So important is ceviche for the Peruvians that it has been declared a ‘national heritage’ and even has a day dedicated to it (June 28 is National Ceviche Day).
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