Dinner Dish: Peru Cooking Vacation - Quinoa
The United Nations and a handful of South American countries, including Peru -- home to our cooking vacation "Magical Peruvian Adventure," have declared 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa." But what makes this Incan superfood so super?
The Incans didn't just build Macchu Picchu, they also discovered quinoa, which is regaled today as one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. The Incans called quinoa chisiya mama (mother grain), as this high protein, gluten-free, low in sugar super grain made up a large part of their diet. Potatoes and maize were also important mainstays.
As for quinoa, it packs quite the nutritional punch, as it includes calcium and protein, as well as a number of life-sustaining nutrients and minerals, like amino acids, magnesium and folate. In the kitchen, quinoa can be cooked like rice and used in a variety of applications, prompting many to predict that it's going to be as popular as soy, if not more so.
Referred to as the "golden grain of the Incas," quinoa is actually a seed that continues to be cultivated in the high altitude of the Peruvian Andean mountains, where the Incans once made their home. Today, its readily available in many U.S. grocery stores.
During our Peru culinary vacation "Magical Peruvian Adventure," visit the historical capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco; tour the Sacred Valley of the Incas; and venture into the mountains to see the ruins of Macchu Picchu. This trip will also take you to Lima, Peru, and it includes 4 cooking classes, and a number of meals, which may just include the famous Cusquenian dish of quinoa!
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By Liz Hall
"Dinner dish" is a blog series, where The International Kitchen discusses recipes and the history of particular regional foods. Have a food you want to learn more about? Contact us today.