Sunday, 27 February 2011
This (not so appetising) food is a freeze-dried potato which is common in Bolivia and Peru, as well as being found in other South American countries. (on the above picture it can be seen with pork) I have read various bits about the history of this food but one particular piece that interested me was that the slave mining workers in Potosi, Bolivia, were almost exclusively fed chuno whilst the rich invaders enjoyed the best of everything from around the world. Potosi, was once one of not only South America's, but the world's richest cities. Quite ironic given that Bolivia is now one of the poorest countries in South America.
The 'cerro rico' - rich hill, was the reason for Bolivia's wealth. It was a mountain where silver was discovered and consequently mined by slaves from across the world. Even today there is still a saying in spanish, 'valer un potosi' - 'to be worth a potosi' (or a 'fortune'). The mine town is now famous for the horrific conditions that miner's have worked under and still do in the cerro rico. The average age of a miner is around just 40 years and many contract diseases such as silicosis from the poor conditions they work under. As a tourist you can actually go into parts of the mine to gain some kind of insight into the terrible conditions people have worked in and still do.
Today, chuno can be found amongst street vendors and in markets, which is where I tried it and it certainly seems popular amongst locals. However, I did not see it on a menu in any restaurant in Bolivia whilst there, perhaps highlighting that it remains a cheap, not massively nutritious source of food for many Bolivians.