Solanum Traditio , project.
With the collaboration of Lizet Díaz Machuca, Marco Chevarría, Ronald Romero, Tania Castro, Luis Justino Lizárraga, Daniel Huamán Masi.
  Cusco — Lima — Vienna, 2015 - 2016

Santisteban. Arte de performance en América Latina y Sudamérica. Arte de acción y performance en Latinoamérica, Sudamérica, Perú, Lima. Arte contemporáneo latinoamericano y peruano. Arte latinoamericano y peruano en espacio público.



Human beings have always had a need for communication, rest, shelter, and food. To satisfy the need for food, man not only collected various plants but also, little by little, learned to sow them, even to domesticate the wild inedible plants in his environment. In ancient Peru, the potato expresses better than any sophistication in the domestication of plants for human consumption.


Despite the cultural diversity and different external influences, in the popular imagination the potato has remained a food that was granted by the apus (the spirits of the hills); food that was not exclusive to certain social classes but for everyone; In this sense, it did not distinguish between creeds or cultures, on the contrary, it helped to build, through food, the foundations of ancient cultures that today invite us to continue with its culinary legacy.

Potato domestication and cultivation:


In the cuisine of ancient Peruvians, the potato fulfilled the role of food but not only of food for earthly life but also for spiritual life. Therefore, the special care to which it has been and is subjected. This meticulous selection of products and patient acclimatization to different natural ecological floors of Peru have made this tuber, at present, have more than 5,000 varieties that constitute the fundamental pieces of Peruvian gastronomy. Among the types of potatoes best known and consumed in Peru we have: Puma Maqui, Loqa, Laran Oqoquri, Huayro, Peruanita, etc. According to their different textures, there are different ways of elaboration in the culinary arts. It is the amount of starch that determines a texture in the presentation of the final product. Thus, a mealy potato (papa huayro) cannot be compacted for the preparation of a succulent Papa Rellena as if a less mealy potato, such as the Canchan potato would.

Main Cooking and Conservation Techniques: One of the main characteristics of pre-Hispanic cultures is their connection with the pachamama [1], who provided the ancient settlers with the benefits of their entrails, including the potato. It should be noted that the main cooking techniques were huatia [2] and pachamanca [3], although the latter from colonial times but with the same idiosyncrasy as the former.


At this point, it is worth mentioning that in the inter-Andean valleys of Peru you can find potato conservation methods that date back to pre-Hispanic times. Here is a brief account:



Coming from Quechua Ch'uñu, it is the dehydration, by lyophilization, of a certain type of potato (bitter potatoes, piñaza, loq'a, etc.). This process known to pre-Inca cultures consists of exposing the tubers to the cold of June, July and August so that they freeze and then exposing them to the sun consecutively, concluding with pressing on foot to extract the last remains of remaining liquid. It is with this product that the most representative pre-Hispanic dishes of the Cusco region are made and that has been able to last to this day. Such is the case of Chuño Lawa [4], very consumed in the Cusco family tables.

The Chuño Blanco, Moraya or Tunta

This dehydration process that, unlike chuño, is not exposed to the sun, only to the cold nights of the high Peruvian mountains in the same season that chuño is made. During the day the potatoes are covered with a thick layer of Ichu (Andean grass) so that the sun's rays do not alter their whitish color. This process lasts 5 to 8 days and then they are placed in jute or plastic bags and submerged in streams of ice water for up to 30 more days. Then, they are removed for pressing with the feet and, finally, exposed to the sun for subsequent peeling by manual rubbing.

Dry Potato or Ttamuso

It is another conservation technique used for centuries although there are no indications that it is of pre-colonial origin. However, data from the colony indicate that this technique is based on cooking potatoes underground (huatia and / or pachamanca) then dried and chopped. Currently dehydration is direct, without passing the tuber through previous cooking. An emblematic dish that Ttamuso uses is the Lima carapulcra [5].


Also called, Penicillin from Ancient Peru. It is a potato fermentation process and contains high amounts of alkaloids, amino acids and antimicrobials. For the elaboration of Tocosh, a hole of approximately 1 and 1.5 meters deep, as well as diameter, is dug, very close to a stream; then the base and the walls are lined with abundant Ichu to later place the potatoes. Every 20 cm. of potatoes a new layer of Ichu is placed and at the end a last layer of Ichu and stones is placed. Finally, the pit is flooded with slowly circulating water for a period of 4 months to 2 years. When the water turns foamy, the Tocosh is ready to harvest.


Ancestral elaborations such as Api [6] can be found today. Other preparations such as the tocosh porridge are more recent.

Ronald Romero.

Chef, researcher of ancestral cuisines.

[1] Mother earth, mother of all beings.

[2] Technique of cooking potatoes under an adobe oven obtained after harvesting the tubers and which is heated and destroyed on the potatoes.

[3] Technique of cooking meat and vegetables underground with hot stones obtained from the river.

[4] Cream based on chuño soaked and burst, flavored with asnapa (a group of aromatic herbs from the region). It is taken in cold months.

[5] Typical dish of the Lima region that consists of a stew of dried potatoes, toasted and soaked with pieces of pork and / or chicken. Its consumption, mainly by slaves, gave it its current characteristics.

[6] Hot thickened sweet-tasting tocosh flour.  



Muñoz-Najar Rojas, María Teresa. Lima 2008 All About the potato: history, secrets and recipes .. Edelnor.

Olivas Weston, Rosario. Lima 2008 Cusco. The Empire of the Kitchen. Ed. USMP.

Lion, Elmo. Lima 2013 14,000 years of food in Peru. Ed. USMP.

Various. Lima 2008 Native Potatoes of Peru: International Year of the Potato. Department of agriculture.

Olivas Weston, Rosario. Lima 1996. The Kitchen in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Ed. USMP.

Various. Lima 2005. From the Andes to the World, Taste and Knowledge. Ed. USMP.

Ronald Romero

Emilio Santisteban , interdisciplinary performance artist. Peru.  Contact us .

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