With around 3800 varieties of potatoes in Peru, you can imagine that the people who live there are expert potato cooks! Potatoes, grains, meat and fats are staples of the Peruvian diet, but as participants in FRB’s Peru-Castrovirreyna program begin to improve their children’s health through nutrition, they are also learning to grow, cook, eat and appreciate a number of vegetables new to them. Cooking classes for the whole family become a way to try new foods, develop recipes, and even inspire people to compete for prizes as they invent new dishes.
CODESO, the local partner of the FRB program led by Lutheran World Relief, printed a handsome cookbook they call “Llapanchiqpaq yanukusun” in Quechua, or “Let’s Cook for Everybody.”
The photos are beautiful and mouthwatering, and the authors include nutritional information, helpfully describing calories as “energy” (taking away the knee-jerk Western reaction to calories as something to be avoided. Remember, the reason we eat is to have enough energy to be able to live and work and play). The back page lists the 3 pillars of good nutrition: Energizers (like potatoes, beans, corn, barley, and a class of tubers called “mashua”), Formers (milk, meats, fish, eggs, lentils and cheese), and Regulators or Protectors (radish, lettuce, beet, carrot, groundcherry, banana, and orange) and tells how our bodies use them.
As I flipped through the cookbook looking for recipes to translate and share, I saw there were a number of foods that are either not available in the U.S., such as a kaleidoscope of colorful potatoes, alpaca (a type of llama), and others we don’t generally have on hand, like charqui (jerky), guinea pig, and broad beans (think gigantic lima beans). A few of the recipes, however, included quinoa, a tiny grain we should all eat more of, since it furnishes a complete protein.
Here are some recipes I hope you’ll find interesting. Note: Some instructions that apparently “go without saying” for people used to cooking with these ingredients were not included in the cooking instructions, so I’ve filled them in, between brackets, to the best of my knowledge and understanding. And your guess is as good as mine as to how much of the miscellaneous ingredients like sugar, oil, onion, and spices you should use!
Nutritional value per serving: Energy/calories: 778
Protein (grams) 24
Fats (grams) 20
¼ kg quinoa (1/2 lb.)
1 bunch spinach
½ cup milk
½ kg rice (1 lb.)
Oil and salt to taste
1. Parboil the quinoa
2. Mix the cooked quinoa, chopped spinach, egg, milk, and salt to taste.
[Form into patties]
3. Fry the patties in hot oil
4. Serve with rice and/or potatoes and salad if desired
SPICY CHARD WITH MEAT
Protein (grams) 23.1
Fats (grams) 4.6
Carbohydrates (grams) 48.5
4 bunches of chard, chopped
½ kg of meat (1 lb.) (lamb, alpaca, chicken, liver), cut into small pieces
1 kg of native potatoes (2.2 lbs.)
4 hot yellow peppers, finely chopped
Onion, garlic, oregano and salt to taste
1. Parboil the chopped chard and the potatoes separately
2. Prepare a dressing [by mixing] the chopped onion, garlic, oregano and the hot yellow peppers; add the cooked chard and salt to taste
3. Season the meat with garlic and salt, fry in hot oil
4. Serve the chard mixture with the fried meat and boiled potatoes and/or rice and zarza [a kind of chunky salsa made with tomato, red onion, lime, chili peppers and sometimes coriander or parsley]
And, for dessert …
APPLE & POTATO PORRIDGE
Protein (grams) 1.9
Fats (grams) 0.4
Carbohydrates (grams) 72.5
½ kg apple, [quartered] (1 lb.)
½ kg native potatoes (1 lb.)
Sugar, cinnamon [ground, and in sticks], clove [ground or whole] to taste
1. Parboil the apples in two cups of water with sugar, stick cinnamon and clove
2. Parboil the native potatoes, peel, and mash with a fork
3. Add the mashed potatoes to the boiled apples and cook until thickened, stirring constantly
4. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon if desired, and serve.
Cuy [Guinea pig] Soup - http://frb.force.com/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=00PF000000WxUlAMAV
By Laurie Kaniarz, FRB staff.