"The gifts of the Earth" by Juan Villanueva

In the Andean world, this idea is powerful to the point of understanding the earth as a mother, whose main role is to feed us, always in a reciprocal pact...

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To say that the earth is the support and sustenance of everything is obvious. In the Andean world, this idea is powerful to the point of understanding the earth as a mother, whose main role is to feed us, always in a reciprocal pact: we feed it with ch'allas and tables so that it is strong and happy.

This August, the month of the Pachamama, we will talk about the beings of the earth, starting with the tubers so and so typical of the Andean world. It is true that some bulbs and stems that grow underground, such as onions and carrots, are important additions from the European world to our diet. But perhaps nowhere in the world has depended so much on underground roots and stems for its sustenance as the Andes.

For more than 5,000 years, humans in this part of the world began a dialogue with plants with bitter and toxic roots, in a work of genetic experimentation that resulted in dozens of varieties of potatoes, geese and papalisas, which are caloric and nutritious, adapted to diverse soils, altitudes and climates.

The racacha and walusa de los valles, and the Amazonian yucca, complete this pantheon of venerable goddesses. Looking for ways to toast, grind and dry these foods to preserve and eat them, the chuño, tunta, caya, watia or chivé are born.

It is likely that the potato has been the great contribution of the Andes to the world, and although the first Spaniards who knew it were poisoned by eating the leaves instead of the stem, they soon learned to love it, because of its versatility to adapt to diverse climates, saving entire countries from famine.

The gnocchi, the Spanish tortilla, the kartoffelsalat or the homemade chips, will not let me lie. Above all, these ancient gifts are present every day on our tables. Thanks to the earth.