Fascinating shapes and sizes of… Non-potato Andean Tuber Crops

Peru, and the Andean region in general, is famous for its incredible variety of potatoes.  A lesser known fact is that the Andes are home to a great diversity in tubers in general, many of which receive little attention outside of Peru, or even a specific region.

A beautiful and intriguing variety of oca and other andean tubers, variety is the spice of life!

A beautiful and intriguing variety of oca and other andean tubers, variety is the spice of life!

In addition to potatoes, tubers such as oca, lisas (or ulluco) and mashua (or añu or isañu) are very popular in local dishes and prominently featured in local markets.  Much like potatoes, oca, lisas and mashua are pre-Inca crops, and an important part of the Andean diet.  Here is a little more about each:

Oca– Here in Cusco, oca is left to sit in the sun for approximately a week to sweeten before eating.  Once ready, it is used in soups and a variety of other dishes.

Lovely Sweet Ocas....  que rico!

Lovely Sweet Ocas….
que rico!

Lisas– Lisas are very popular in soups and dishes such as aji de lisas.  It´s leaves are also edible and very nutritious.

Lisas!

Lovely Luscious Lisas – que rico!

Mashua– Like oca, mashua has a stronger, peppery taste when raw.  It is also commonly left in the sun for some time to sweeten its flavor.

A woman at market holds a basket of mashua, on left, and oca on the right

A woman at market holds a basket of mashua, on left, and oca on the right

So get exploring the markets and sampling the differing, delectable, delights of the Peruvian tuber family! “Buen Provecho!”

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