The National Potato Day in Peru is May 30th – the day when people celebrate and pay homage to one of the essential food crops in the world which originates in Peru. On this day, Peru aims to raise awareness of the importance of natural resource management and competent agriculture.
Incas and Potato
The world’s fourth largest food crop, the potato has become a staple food in countries around the world. People rarely think where it originated from because they are so used to it – it was domesticated about 7,000–9,000 years ago in parts of modern-day Bolivia and Peru. However, the cultivation of potatoes was in the area of the Titicaca Lake (the High Andes of southeastern Peru), in the Valley of Colca, and the Ayacucho region over 10,000 years ago. The Incas found the way to preserve potatoes for storage (up to 10 years) by dehydrating and mashing them into chuñu, which provides insurance against crop failures. They used potatoes to treat injuries and believed that the veggie made childbirth easier.
The crop was the primary energy source for the Inca Empire and was introduced to Europe in the 16th century after the Spanish had conquered the Incas.
There are 4,000 Varieties of Potato
In most countries around the world, people tend to favor just a few varieties or types of potato. However, there are almost 4,000 species of the crop, most of which only grow in Peru. When in Peru, make sure to you try the Chuñu, Huayro, Black, Pink, and Sweet varieties. Many of these species are not sold outside of the country. They differ in taste, texture, skin, color, shape, and size, but all have their place in the Peruvian cuisine.
National Potato Day – 30th May
The National Potato Day is a platform initiated to celebrate the diversity of the crop and increase its consumption. Each May 30th, visitors can enjoy Peruvian drinks and meals prepared with potato at various festivals held throughout the country. FestiPapa is one of the biggest festivals in Lima that aims to promote the immense diversity of the tuber as well as to offer small producers a way to introduce its usage and variety to consumers. The festival lasts two days and includes a small native potato market, potato-based food, beverage contests, potato tastings, and live shows with Peruvian music and dances. In Lima and other cities, some restaurants offer special menus and drinks based on different varieties of Peruvian potatoes.
The National Potato Day goes even beyond the celebration of the diversity of this delicious crop. It aims to create and raise awareness of the importance of preserving agriculture traditions and managing natural resources. You can visit the Potato Park (Parque de la Papa) in the Cusco Valley – an agroecological region spreading on 12,000 hectares, created to conserve traditional Quechua cultures.