The potato (Solanum tuberosum), a tuber which originated in the upper reaches of the Andes, has served as a foodstuff for Man over the past 8,000 years. However, it was not until the Spaniards took potato samples back to Europe in the sixteenth century that the tuber rose to become a universal foodstuff. In fact, slightly less than a century after the potato was brought over to the Old World, the potato was already massively consumed, and during the industrial revolution turned out to be a key energy source for the working class.
According to ancient legend, when the mythical founders of the Inca empire, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca, the first thing the god Wiracocha taught them was how to sow potatoes. Possibly due to this time-honored origin, the farmers of the Andes have managed to create a series of varieties that have adapted to a wide variety of climates.
Today, scientists have identified more than 4,000 potato varieties, many of which -such as the yellow potato (papa amarilla or papa huayro) are only founded in Peru. In fact, Peruvian potatoes are held to be matchless in flavor and texture: their noble yet delicate shapes fit perfectly into the cultural background this tuber enjoys in Peru: the all-powerful Quechua culture revered the potato not just as a crucial foodstuff, but as an icon.
There is even a popular saying: "That's more Peruvian than potato", a reference to the unmistakable stamp of Peruvian origin on the tuber. It is a compliment that does justice to this age-old fruit of the Andes.
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