Get a taste of Peru’s hot potatoes

Industrialized agriculture has threatened the diversity and cultural value of this staple crop, but inventive chefs are changing the recipe.

Since at least 5000 B.C., inhabitants of what’s now Peru have been feasting on spuds. It makes sense: More than 4,000 varieties grow here. But the diversity and cultural value of the crop are under threat from industrialized agriculture. Today inventive chefs such as Virgilio Martínez are boosting the status of the potato and other traditional Andean foods into cuisine often dubbed Novoandina. (Here’s why foodies have been drawn to Peru.)

At Mil, Martínez’s restaurant in the Sacred Valley, travelers can help harvest the very potatoes that will end up on their plates as part of an eight-course, Andean-focused menu. The myriad types found at Mil are due in part to Peru’s latest potato pioneer, Manuel Choqque Bravo. He has created what he calls Manuel’s super potatoes—high in antioxidants and ablaze with pink, blue, and purple hues. Bravo proves tubers are delicious not only as food but also as drink, with innovations that include Miskioca, a fermented tipple made from the colorful potato-like oca.

Another game changer, Lima-based chef Palmiro Ocampo, promotes zero-waste cooking and sustainable food with dishes like potato-peel chicken nuggets. Drawing from the past to transform modern fare, these chefs are passing the potatoes, and helping to make Peru one of the world’s top dining destinations.

Read This Next

Battle to control America’s ‘most destructive’ species: feral pigs

How coffee can help forests grow faster

The forgotten fossil hunter who transformed Britain’s Jurassic Coast

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet