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The potato soup, history, tradition and culture of Ecuador

Potato soup Achiote Ecuador Cuisine
The potato locro or Potato Soup, is an ancestral dish of the Andean peoples, it naturally has typical Ecuadorian characteristics in fusion with Spanish cuisine.

The potato locro or Potato Soup, is an ancestral dish of the Andean peoples, it naturally has typical Ecuadorian characteristics in fusion with Spanish cuisine.

Locro is a central “character” of Ecuador’s food cultural heritage, due to its tradition, history and preparation.

In the beginning it only consisted of pumpkin, corn, potatoes and grains cooked in a broth.

After the arrival of the Spanish to America, locro began to experience changes in its recipe, with cheese and milk being the added ingredients.

There are different ways to serve this dish, it all depends on each person who prepares it, obeying their environment and tradition.

Usually potato soup is served with avocado and slices of cheese.

Its flavor is delicious, but, depending on the preparation, it can become a truly exquisite dish.

History of locro

Father Joseph de Acosta, a Spanish anthropologist of the Jesuit order, mentions in his book “Moral and Natural History of the Indies” of 1590, the experiences collected during his missions in the Indies, narrating customs and beliefs of the natives of Mexico and Peru.

In this treatise, Acosta mentions the potato as the main ingredient of locro.

“Another extreme opposite is the one that in other parts of the Indies eliminates wheat and corn bread, such as the high mountains of Peru and the provinces called Collao, which is the majority of that kingdom; where the temperament is so cold and so dry, that there is no room to grow wheat or corn, in which place the Indians use another type of roots, which they call potatoes, which are like turmas of earth and put a little leaf on top. They take these potatoes and let them dry well in the sun and, breaking them, they make what they call chuño, which is preserved like this for many days and serves as bread, and in that kingdom it is a great contract for this chuño for the mines of Potosí. Potatoes are also eaten fresh, cooked or roasted, and from a milder type of potato, which is also found in hot places, they make a certain stew or casserole, which they call locro.

Fray Bernabé Cobo wrote in 1653 that in Peru “Caygua (a climbing herb whose fruit is a berry about 15 cm) is served in stews, mainly in locros.

“…and when referring to cochayuyo (large edible seaweed) or murmuntu (A seaweed that grows in the heights of the Andes and is compared, due to its shape and texture, to sea caviar) it indicates that” Indians and Spaniards “They used it in the stew called locro.”

At another time, Cobo, when referring to the foods and drinks of Peru, says: “…from this cured meat that they call charqui, and from the fresh meat, they did not know how to make more than a kind of pot or stew, called locro, with a lot of chili, chuño, potatoes and other legumes”

The yankalla papa lukru, from the Quechua recipe book, equivalent to the simple potato locro, is composed of two and a half kilos of potatoes, half a cabbage or a bunch of turnips, 3 tablespoons of lard and one and a half charaditas of salt, all cooked in eight liters of water.

According to Juan de Arona, which was the pseudonym of the Peruvian writer and journalist Pedro Manuel Nicolás Paz Soldán y Unanue, in his Dictionary of Peruvianisms of 1884, he says that the word locro comes from Quechua, and that, from squash, an indigenous South American plant, in Lima, the madness is done.

In an anonymous text from the 17th century, ‘Description of the viceroyalty of Peru’, in the chapter called ‘Fruits and things that were raised before the arrival of the Spanish’, there is also a reference to locro where potatoes are eaten cooked or roasted and in locros, “…they make meat, corn and other things with them”

Andrés Gutiérrez Usillo, in his book Gods, symbols and food of the Andes, says that locro, a traditional Ecuadorian dish, is basically a stew with a vegetable base, mainly potatoes, but he observed how in Riobamba, it was prepared with beef. rabbit dried in the sun.

Locro de cuchipapa in Ecuador is a thick potato soup. There is also locro made of meat, cheese, curdled blood (Yahuarlocro), and poor people make it with potatoes intended for feeding pigs.

In the book ‘Recipes for life’: advice, customs and cuisine from the Andean kitchens, in the area of preparation and remedies for women for childbirth and fertility, locro de cuy (guinea pig or guinea pig) is recommended. for the woman’s flow.

“This is a cold disease that makes women feel cold. It is treated with foods for recovery, such as guinea pig locro and other hot remedies such as baths and steam prepared with hot plants.

The potato locro and its evolution

The potato soup has been evolving into a succulent plant with several added ingredients since the arrival of the Spanish.

Achiote Ecuador Cuisine Potato Soup
Achiote Ecuador Cuisine Potato Soup

It has gone from a simple cooking of potatoes to a series of additions of original ingredients from the continent, such as pumpkin and corn, to which other products of European influence were added.

This method of slow cooking with ingredients that were on hand, be they vegetables or animals, was common in all cultures, particularly in the less economically favored social classes, giving rise to what in France was called pot pourri or rotten pot, to the Spanish, then cooked (puchero for the Argentines), and whose ancestor has been the adafina, a popular dish of Sephardic Jewish origin, which contained chickpeas, beans, rice and lamb, whose slow cooking took all night from Friday to Saturday. (Shabbat).

The emblematic potato locro of the Ecuadorian mountains

With the passage of time, potato locro has become an emblematic dish of the Ecuadorian mountains, at least I have not seen its preparation on the Ecuadorian coast or east.

Locro is made with a medium-sized potato called papa chola locrera, which has the peculiarity of releasing a lot of starch, resulting in a thick soup.

The potatoes are cut into two different sizes, so that the smaller pieces fall apart and the larger ones show on the plate.

The potato locro is served accompanied by pieces of fresh cheese, slices of avocado and chili sauce.

Other vegetables such as corn, pumpkin, chard, broad beans or sambo can also be added to this same locro, thus adopting the name of the added vegetable, such as “corn locro” or “chard locro” for example, and where always the potato will be present as the basis of the preparation.

Source: Historia Cocina  |  Confieso que cocino  |  Cultura y Patrimonio EC

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