Chuño for Dinner
If you come to my house for dinner, what would I prepare for you?
I would certainly prepare a banquet for you after traveling so far just for dinner––to Bolivia. And, for sure I’d serve a Bolivian meal. Our family loves Bolivian food, and one of our favorite Bolivian meals is Picante de Pollo (translation, spicy chicken). It’s a chicken dish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. And, the sides are uniquely Bolivian. The chicken is served with rice, a salad of tomatoes and onions, boiled potatoes, and a unique potato called chuño. It’s a potato harvested in the Altiplano—the high flatlands of Bolivia. This location in the Andes has freezing temperatures much of the year.
What is chuño, you ask?
Chuño is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by the Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru and is know in other countries of South America, including Argentina and Chile. It is made in a five-day process, obtained by exposing a frost-resistant variety of potatoes to the very low night temperatures of the Andes Altiplano, freezing them, and subsequently exposing them to the intense sunlight of the day––this being the traditional process. The word chuño is a Quechua word meaning ‘frozen potato’ and in some dialects means ‘wrinkled’.
And to top off the meal, I’d serve a traditional flan for dessert. I promise if you don’t want to try the chuño, I won’t be offended. It’s the only Bolivian food that I don’t miss while on furlough in the States. As for the rest of the meal, I have no doubt you’ll find it deliciosa (English translation, delicious––some words in Spanish are similar to English). I’m sure you’ll find it a meal to remember when you return home.
Picante de Pollo originated from western Bolivia
and is characterized by its aroma and spicy taste of chuño (dehydrated potatoes).
*Chuño is the dark potato at the left of the photo.