The treasures of Peru
When referring to the riches of Peru, thought immediately to gold and silver of the Incas. It seems that gods were particularly generous with Peru, offering the world resources so useful such as the potato or prestigious as the noble vicuña fiber. But these treasures have never benefited the Andean people, even the acknowledgment of paternity.
Except potato that everyone spontaneously relates to Peru, most people think that some plants native to this region come from another part of the world. The tomato is logically native to Mexico because Christopher Columbus discovered it there. By deduction chili pepper is from Africa or Asia because they are currently the largest producers and consumers. Cassava is undoubtedly a typical plant of Africa and of course the prestigious Egyptian cotton is native to the banks of the Nile.
It is not so and let's clear up some confusion.
The Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture has identified 2,321 local varieties of potatoes and 91 wild species. The oldest remains have been discovered in the Chilca canyon (65 km / 40 mi south of Lima) and date from 8,000 BC.
The Incas gave the name "papa", but the Spanish conquistadors mistook it for sweet potatoes previously found in South America and changed the name to "patata". Its introduction in Europe was quite slow, initially reserved as feed for livestock and human consumption started in Ireland and Germany.
The origin of sweet potato (camote in Peru), is thought to be in Central or South America according to several scientists. However, the earliest evidence of domestication date back as far back as 8,000 to 10,000 years have been found in the present department of Ayacucho in Peru (5,000 years in Central America) .
Christopher Columbus brought it in Europe returning from his first trip to the New World in 1493. Soon after, it is widely distributed in Africa and Asia.
In Peru there are 2 main varieties of sweet potatoes, the yellow and the purple.
From the same family as the potato, we now know that its origin is Peruvian and not just for the antiquity of the archaeological evidence recorded in the ceramics from the northern Peru, but also by the great diversity of wild tomatoes found in Western Peruvian Andes.
However, its use became widespread in Mexico, hence the confusion of origin. Brought in Europe, were initially used only as an ornamental plant thought to be poisonous by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit and we must wait almost two centuries (mid eighteenth century) until Italians begin to consume it.
Despite many investigations and controversies between Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, the exact origin of corn is still unknown. What is true is that it was sacred food of both civilizations, Aztecs and Incas.
Incas prepared the aja or chicha de jora (corn beer), used during religious ceremonies and today it is the traditional drink in the Andes.
On Peruvian coast prepares chicha morada, a non-alcoholic drink made from purple corn.
The bean (known as frejol or frijol in Peru) is native to the Andes and the oldest-known domesticated beans were found in Guitarrero Cave in the central Andes of Peru and dated to around second millennium BCE.
Columbus takes it to Europe in 1493.
Cassava or manioc
It is an long root that can reach one meter (40 in) long, its flesh is firm, usually white, very rich in starch, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.
Numerous documents give the origin of cassava in Mexico, but until the UNAM, a university in Mexico, mention discoveries of the oldest remains of cassava in graves 8,000 years old in the valley of Chillon and Paracas Peninsula (both in Peru).
Today, Africa is the largest producer of cassava followed by Asia and Latin America.
Originated in Peru and Ecuador, chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the South America since at least 9,000 years. Then it spread throughout tropical America thanks to bird droppings who love the chili and are insensitive to capsaicin, the substance that gives the spicy flavor.
Unlike potatoes and tomatoes that take long to be accepted as food in Europe, chili took less than 50 years to be integrated into cooking worldwide.
In Peru there are about 50 varieties of chili, more or less spicy and today Peru is the first world's producer of paprika, a variety of chili.
Plant family of bromeliads, pineapple (called piña in Peru) is native to the Amazon rainforest and spread in the sixteenth century to Europe and in tropical areas of Asia and Africa.
Passiflora Edulis Sims
It is a vine species native to the Amazon rainforest and its local name "maracuyá" probably comes from the Guarani (language native to Paraguay) mburukuja meaning "fly breeding" by the sweetness of nectar that attracts insects. The Jesuits of the seventeenth century gave the name Passion Fruit due to the settlement of floral structures recognized "the suffering flower", alluding to the suffering and passion of Christ.
Passion fruit was discovered in Peru in 1569 by the Spanish physician and botanist Nicolas Bautista Monardes and currently 40 tropical and subtropical countries grow this fruit. Normally it is used to make juices.
From the same family as passion fruit, sweeter and less acidic, is a typical fruit of the Andean region. It is eaten raw, recommended to regulate the digestive system, especially for children.
It is another fruit of the same family that passion fruit, native to Andes mountains. Like the maracuyá, it is used to make juice.
The American archaeologist Tom Dillehay discovered traces of peanuts (called maní in Peru) of 7.840 years in Paiján and Nanchoc Valley, Peru. This species was first cultivated in the coastal Andean region of Peru, according to the archaeological ruins of Pachacamac (near Lima) and the Lord of Sipan (Chiclayo, northern Peru). The Incas extended their cultivation to other regions of South America and the Spaniards led peanuts in Europe and Africa.
Today its cultivation has spread widely in Asia, Africa and Oceania.
The Pima, considered the world's finest cotton, originated in northern Peru and has been domesticated since 4200 BC. Its fiber is the finest, longest and strongest used by fashion designers such as Armani and Lacoste.
Pima was planted in the British North American colonies in Georgia and South Carolina from 1786, where became known as Sea Island cotton also called Extra long staple cotton.
In the early 19th century, Mohammed Ali Pasha, founder of modern Egypt, import the Sea Island cotton that will be improved by French engineer Alexis Jumel in 1817, becoming the famous Egyptian cotton.
The vicuña, of the same family as the llama, has the finest animal fiber in the world, with an average of 12 micrometers in diameter. In comparison, the cashmere has 17 micrometers, alpaca 24 and sheep 50.
This finesse and great rarity, make it the most expensive wool in the world, sold US$500 per kg freshly shorn. Almost all production is exported in rich countries and a garment of this wool reaches high prices. Vicuña scarf costs US$500 (price in Peru) and a coat can cost over US$30,000.