Sunday, September 26, 2010

Potato-Eating In The Andes

The excerpt below was from a reference in my previous post (Andean Nutrition, Exchange, and Ritual, Joseph W. Bastien):
"Rivaling the Irish, Aymaras eat potatoes for five meals during the day. Principal meals consist of quinoa or potato soup and a heaping bowl of many varieties of boiled potatoes. The potato skins are given to the guinea pigs. In spite of the nutritional value of the peels, Aymaras as well as other Andeans consider eating them pi-like behavior. Nutritionists should not hope to change this view.

The peeled potatoes are dipped in a spicy hot sauce called afí (chili peppers and tomatoes). The meal is very bland and relatively tasteless for Westerners, but Aymaras relish the different species of potatoes, popping them into their mouths and commenting whether the potato is a "Red Maiden," "Bitter Potato," or some other of the hundred or more varieties that they cultivate.

Aymaras freeze-dry potatoes to make Ch'uño by laying potatoes on the ground during June, the coldest month, to freeze at night and sweat from the sun during the day while they shuffle through them, squeezing out the water, so that they shrink to the size of marbles. Ch'uño has four times the energy value in calories as that of unprocessed potatoes."

Hundreds of varieties of potatoes. Freeze-dried potato marbles. Life is short.
Photos are from the International Potato Center located in Peru, from the 2004 annual harvest at San Jose de Aymara.
Pi-like behavior?


Dr. Mel said...

I'll try again. "Pi" can mean "primitive instinct," acc. to Wiki. Also was wondering how these people fare, healthwise, on a potatoes sans skin diet.

Bix said...

Primitive instinct. That's interesting.

It's regrettable that we're losing agricultural biodiversity and traditional food knowledge. But, I don't know ... if it means we can grow more food?

caulfieldkid said...

Along the same lines: Someone trying to eat 20 potatoes a day for 60 days.

He's the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, so take it for what it's worth.


Bix said...

shaun ... this is such a great experiment! So glad you posted it. I'm still reading his blog.

Bix said...

Melinda, your wondering made me recall...

Gary Taubes in his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories said:

"Carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be."

He also said:

"Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes."


"Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior."

"Consuming excess calories does not cause [Taubes' emphasis] us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger."

So, I would guess, given Taubes' analysis, that the lean gentleman in this photo is not eating many potatoes. And he is not lean because he expends more energy than he consumes. He is lean because his diet is mostly fat and protein? (I still don't get this.)