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If we could stop and look around us, we would notice a strange coexistence between "advances in technology" and a cruel struggle for survival, and for the cost of reaching this technology. An abysmal gap between urban and rural reality, between shantytowns and shopping malls… It may be time to slow down this rhythm of unreality.
"The fruits that Peru had, that it maintained before the Spaniards, were in different ways: some that are raised above the ground and others below it. Of those that are raised above the ground, the first place has the grain that the Mexicans and the people of Barcelona call corn, and those of Peru zara, because it is the bread they had. (…)
The second place of the crops that is raised on the beam of the land is called quinoa and the Spanish mujo or small rice, because in the grain and the color it resembles something.The plant in which it is raised closely resembles the piglet, both in the stem and in the leaf and in the flower, which is where quinoa is grown; the young leaves eat the Indians and the Spanish in their stews, because they are tasty and very healthy. They also eat the grain in their stews, made of The Indians make a beverage to drink from quinoa, like corn, but it is in lands where there is a lack of corn.
The Indian herbalists use quinoa flour for some diseases. In the year 1500 and ninety they sent this seed to me from Peru, but it arrived dead, although it was sown at various times, it was not born. (…) "
GARCILASO DE LA VEGA "Real Comments"
Chapter XXIV "Of corn and what they call rice and other seeds"
The foregoing was extracted from the REAL COMMENTS of the Inca GARCILASO DE LA VEGA. Finished publishing in 1613, it is a testimony worth taking into account, after 500 years of the beginning of one of the historical genocides most with impunity hidden behind the word "discovery" ...
I wanted to start this work with the Inca Garcilaso, not only because of his historical testimony, but also because he in himself is a synthesis of cultures: his mother was an Inca ñusta (princess), and his father a Spanish captain, governor of Cuzco in the first years of "conquest".
If we could stop and look around us, we would notice a strange coexistence between "advances in technology" and a cruel struggle for survival, and for the cost of achieving this technology. An abysmal gap between urban and rural reality, between shanty towns and shopping centers ...
Perhaps it is time to slow down this rhythm of unreality.
Something in our society does not correspond to the cosmic laws that the ancient cultures of the world knew well and respected.
The intention of this work is not only to disseminate the nutritional properties of quinoa and how to use it, but also to integrate all the cultural that the food entails. With this writing I want to leave seeds to start thinking about ourselves from our America, from what we are today between past and desires, between our history and our utopias ...
While the inertia of compulsive consumption makes us believe that we can choose more and more, in reality we can choose less and less. Just as small stores are disappearing, due to growing tax usury and unfair competition from multinational hypermarkets, so also with our body we are losing healthy and genuine sources of vitality.
From a daily attempt to bring ideology, desires and tasks closer together, I found that food was not only fuel for the organs, but it could also be a vehicle of communication with the people I live with and love. Paying attention to choosing what I ate was a key for me in this attempt and doing without highly processed foods was the first step, looking for the vital and the least industrialized, understanding that the manipulation of food from the moment Nature gives it until it reaches me, it also does what my body receives. I can't help seeing hypermarkets as centers of exploitation and abuse, and I don't want to be part of that chain with my purchase. Vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes began to occupy a central place since they are the foods least handled by the commercial circuit.
I was integrating new things that I could only find in stores such as barns or diets, such as beans of various colors, a great diversity of whole grain rice and corn. I knew cereals that believed to be food for little birds, like millet, and I rescued seeds that I did not use but that resonated with me from my grandmothers.
Little by little, I discovered that in the Armenian culture that is that of my grandparents, there was a priority consumption of whole grains. Wheat and rice are present in all meals, logically because they are the cereals that were given in that area of Asia. On different continents, different cereals predominated, and all used to constitute the food base of each people.
Wheat is the main food of Europe; rice from the East; the corn of temperate America; the kasha of Siberia; the quinoa of the Incas and Aymara; millet from the Chinese and sorghum from Africa.
Today all over the world you can get food from the most distant and different regions. The "global village" is creating international marketing molds that destroy the identity of each region.
While in Salta I wanted to buy a cayote sweet (the cayote belongs to the squash family, and regional delicacies are made with it). I found a chain supermarket that is also in Buenos Aires. I was surprised to find in the gondolas the same German jam that I had seen in Buenos Aires, but I was much more surprised to find no cayote candy ... Terrible, right?
Thus, while we believe we are gaining diversity, we are actually losing it. There are dozens of varieties of each cereal that express the characteristics of a climate and its geography, but the laws of the market complicate the possibility of all of them being marketed, and producers need to limit themselves to producing what the demand demands, leaving them in oblivion. varieties of each region.
How did I get to know quinoa?
I started to wonder what the typical cereals of America would be and I discovered that of the native cereals only corn is known and only a few of its varieties since there are more than 400 varieties of corn throughout the continent.
But it is not the only cereal, it is simply the one that survived the "conquest".
They exist in the highlands, among the so-called Andean crops: quinoa, kiwicha, and cañihua. Here in Argentina you only get, looking very well, quinoa, which is still consumed in Jujuy and Salta.
Quinoa is also called hupa in Bolivia, quinoa in Peru and rises in Colombia.
The kiwicha called coimi or mihimi in Aymara achita, "plant of joy" or huatli in Mexico, is not widely used today as food, except for a few who try to rescue it from oblivion and other silent foreigners who, knowing of its nutritional virtues , they research it as "food for astronauts", paying for the information to take it with them.
There is a variety that grows wild and is called ataco, aroma, piglet or ajara that is used as a termite repellent or as a garden decoration.
There are valuable attempts to rescue and improve its cultivation, among which I do not want to fail to mention the research work LA KIWICHA published by 2nd and 3rd year students. year of the Normal School of Tilcara, together with teachers Luis Cabrera and María Luisa Pamberton de Kush (Wishi), where they develop and publish all their concerns about this cereal. Nor would it be fair if when speaking of this seed I did not mention the incalculable value of the work done by Isabel and Armando Alvarez and all those who participate in PIRCA, as well as Jorge Siga and his persevering publications.
Cañihua is only known in northwestern Bolivia, in Peru and Ecuador, and it is a quinopodacea (quenopodium pallidicaule) also called cañagua (Bolivia) or qañiwa (Peru).
Finally, although they are not cereals, I want to mention other foods grown in the Andes such as tarwi, which is a legume; the chuño or tunta, the oca, the melloco or olluco and the isaño which are tubers.
Its scientific name is Chenopodium Quinua Willdenow.
It is a gynomonoic plant, annual, 0.50 to 1.60 cm. tall, highly branched from the base, green or pigmented. The leaves are somewhat thick, with 3 veins and a round or sharp apex covered with whitish vesicular hairs; they measure 3 to 15 cm. long by 2 to 8 cm. Wide. They vary according to humidity and species.
Its inflorescences are compact pyramidal racemes and its flowers are hermaphroditic and female, although the former predominate. The fruit is covered by a white, ocher or brick-red perigonium. The seed is lenticular, opaque or sometimes translucent, with almost sharp edges, and slightly convex faces, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 mm in diameter. The outer membrane of the grain, the perisperm, has a high content of saponin that causes the bitter taste.
In general, it is not planted alone, but in association with other crops such as potatoes and corn, serving as a fence in the fields and functioning as windbreaks.
The sowing season varies according to the climatic conditions of the region. In temperate zones it can be sown from July to October to be harvested six months later.
In cold areas it is sown from June and its growth cycle lasts up to eight months. The plant reaches between 0.50 and up to 2 meters in height.
Its harvest occurs from mid-March to the end of April, since the panicles ripen in stages.
It is good to be careful not to delay the harvest of the ripe fruits since the birds chase them voraciously.
In the producing countries of the Andean area, quinoa is processed in an artisanal or incipient industrial way and is sold packaged or in bulk.
There are two processes: the manual and the mechanical.
* In rural areas, traditional forms of manual collection are maintained, and drying in pots takes about 30 days after which they are ready to be processed. The production is destined for self-consumption and if there is a surplus for barter or sale. The panicles are rubbed on a canvas lying on the ground, releasing the seeds; it is gently beaten and exposed to a draft (vented) to remove the floral wrappings ("jipi" in Quechua). The grains are then moistened and rubbed on the grinding stone ("batán" or "qona") and carefully rubbed to remove the integument. To finish removing the bitterness (which is not completely achieved), the grains are rubbed with their hands, washing with plenty of water until it comes out without foam. Thus they are dried in the sun, and stored, completing their cleaning of small stones and earth at the time of consumption.
* The mechanical process consists of detaching the perisperm by means of the mechanical rubbing of the dried grains, the floral envelope already removed, on an abrasive surface and its subsequent separation by ventilation. This process is ideal for areas where water is scarce.
Modern nutrition confirms with its meticulous chemical description the reasons why the Native Americans, intuitively, chose quinoa and other Andean crops as precious seeds to include in their diet.
This seed, considered a pseudocereal by agriculture, surpasses the best known cereals for its protein, fat and mineral content.
Between 14 and 18% of its composition is made up of proteins, predominantly three important amino acids for the assimilation of other small substances that are fundamental in growth: one is cystine, which allows the assimilation of sulfur; another is tyrosine which is associated with calcium and phosphorus; and the third is tryptophan, which is one of the eight amino acids called "essential" and that the body needs to ingest in food, since it cannot synthesize it by itself; the latter is essential for the normal development of the brain and other nervous functions.
The seed is very rich in vitamin B content, which have antineuritic and regularizing properties for the use and combustion of carbohydrates. However the young leaves called "yuyu" are used as spinach. Like any green leaf, it contains an important amount of vitamins A and K. Let's not forget what Inca Garcilaso comments:
"... the young leaves eat the Indians and the Spanish in their stews because they are tasty and very healthy ..."
Between 2 and up to 3.3% are minerals and it is worth mentioning calcium, phosphorus and iron as the predominant ones.
Next, a comparative table of almost all cereals, according to their composition of proteins, fats and carbohydrates expressed in number of grams per 100 grams. of edible food. Perhaps the numbers give us a clearer idea of what this little Andean wonder means.
Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats
CORN 3.5 1 22.1
OAT 13 5.4 66.1
RICE 7.5 1.9 77.4
RYE 9.4 1 77.9
WHEAT 13.3 2 71
BARLEY 8.2 1 78.8
MILLET 9.9 2.9 72.9
KASHA 11.7 2.4 72.8
SORGHUM 11-12.7? ?
QUINOA 14-19 7 64
Dr. Victor Hugo Saravia says, in his book "Rational Food", published in La Paz in 1945: "... quinua ... alkaline reaction, prevents acidosis from a diet rich in protein, for this reason it is recommended add to the daily diet in the ratio of one meat to six quínua. "
Quinoa, exceeds oats in fat content as it reaches 7%, and in protein compared to other cereals, it is only surpassed by other Andean grains such as kiwicha and cañiwa (quinoa pallidicaule), which exceed 20% . But these grains would merit a separate job. I have no experience with them, but I learned through a publication of the International Women's Tribune Center that in Peru there are neighborhood experiences of women applied to the processing of all kinds of food and products enriched by Andean grains, combining wheat-kiwicha , wheat-cañiwa and wheat-quinoa. On the other hand, and they are perhaps the product of the same initiative, there is a cocoa for children's milk that is enriched with quinoa and kiwicha flours. It is certainly a smart and fun way to meet protein and mineral needs in children's diets.
By punctually mentioning the predominant elements, I miss being able to mention the contents in small quantities. For this I do not want to stop highlighting what Inca Garcilaso tells us. Quinoa grows "in lands where there is a lack of corn." The plant likes to grow in harsh climates and conditions. The mountainous region of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and the North of Chile and NW Argentina are its cradle. In the south, the crops weaken and stink easily, requiring more care.
Nature knows how to give each region what is necessary, not only in its chemical components, but also in its energy quality.
Thus, in hot climates the seeds and fruits are more watery and sweet, lush and tempting; but in cold regions they are generally dry and bitter, concentrated and nutritious.
Undoubtedly, the characteristics of quinoa are the synthesis of the climate of the puna, of the strength and silence of the Andes ...
"... The Indian herbalists use quinoa flour for some diseases ..."
Quinoa flour used in plasters is most likely beneficial for diseases that occur on the skin and burns and open wounds, since the high content of saponin contributes to the elimination of injured tissues and their reconstitution.
ALOE is also used by cosmetology and pharmaceuticals for this same purpose, and this is due to its high saponin content. One of the varieties and perhaps the most widely used is called "aloe SAPONARIA", which although not recommended to ingest, is miraculous in external treatments.
With the leaves and stems made ashes and kneaded with the puree of a bitter potato called "luki" and other additional ingredients, a greyish mass called "yista", "llijta" or "legía" is prepared, which is used in the "coqueo" to accompany the coca leaves in its chew.
In addition, historically the foliage and branches of Chenopodium were part of the composition of the mass with which the ancient Peruvians wrapped mummies.
Its Culinary Use ...
I do not want to start the culinary section without mentioning before that the forms, consistencies and types of cooking used in the highlands, differ greatly from our urban aesthetic.
Stews, stews, locros, soups and tortillas are perhaps rare in the city, which asks for quick, dry and practical ways that can be eaten with your hands or, at most, with a fork ... No spoons and things that drip ... no?
However, the grain of quinoa lends itself very well to prepare croquettes, risottos, breads, cookies, puddings and even stuffing empanadas. We know, above all, that we have a top quality raw material. The rest is the work of the artist ...
Quinoa has a cleaning process that requires importance for two reasons:
The first is the high content of saponin it contains, which is not always completely removed in post-harvest processes. Saponin is a very bitter glycoside, which is also present in yerba mate, and as its name indicates, similar to soap, it produces foam in contact with water. Perhaps in an infusion like mate, the bitter taste is not unpleasant but, at lunchtime, it is not pleasant to have it present. On the other hand, it is not a beneficial substance for the body.
The second reason is the presence of small pebbles and sand that come from their harvest. I do not think it is unnecessary to mention that all products that are sold loose, such as cereals and legumes, must be cleaned as the grandmothers did, spreading them on a white cloth and manually removing stones, and foreign grains, because as they are not industrialized there are almost no mediators that manipulate the grain between whoever harvests it and who will eat it.
Although it is annoying, I assure you that this is the guarantee of a food that provides energy and nobility to our body, and that there is no other way to achieve it: the fewer mediators between Mother Earth and those who eat it, the more vital the food is.
There is no way to encapsulate energy, much less nobility ...
Quinoa is too small to clean on a canvas. We can resort to cleaning by decantation, since the stones are heavier than the cereal.
Remove the grit.
Covering the quinoa with plenty of water, it is stirred in a smooth swirl. Soaking for a few hours is convenient. Tea strainer in hand, the grains that float are caught and set aside.
As the last grains are reached, we will see the reason for such meticulous work.
Second step: Remove the saponin.
Next, the grains must be washed several times until rubbing them in the water does not give off any more foam.
Once these two processes are finished, the grains are allowed to drain 15 ′ on a strainer or canvas and it will be ready to be cooked.
General instructions for cooking
If a well cooked and pasty grain is desired, for preparations such as soups, pasta, tortillas, etc. the grains should be thrown into cold water. If, on the other hand, a dry, intact and crispy grain is desired for grains and desserts, they should be cooked in hot water.
The first five recipes were provided by THANTA SARA, a house of natural products in San Salvador de Jujuy, and are traditional to the place. The next four are recipes that I usually prepare at home.
Quinoa Leaves Cream Soup
30 quinoa leaves
1/4 kilo of meat 5 potatoes
Salt to taste
1. Cook the potatoes and the quinoa leaves. Undo them well with a fork.
2. With the meat and salt, make a broth in 8 cups of water.
3. Add the potatoes and leaves to the broth, boiling until thickened.
4. Serve with croutons or French fries.
2 cups clean quinoa
1/4 kg. meat or jerky
6 medium potatoes
6 chuños * soaked
1 small cheese
1 large onion
Oil or butter
1 clove garlic
ground chili, cumin, salt and pepper
* Chuño is a potato that has been dried due to the difference in temperature between the cold at night and the heat of the day. It is a long-lasting food, highly concentrated and appreciated.
1. Cook the quinoa in 8 cups of water for one hour.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onion, garlic and spices.
3. Add the meat cut into small pieces, browning everything.
4. Add the cut potatoes, the chopped chuños, salt and 3 cups of water, letting cook for 40 ′. (You can add fresh peas or beans.)
5. Add the cooked quinoa, the chopped cheese and boil for a few minutes.
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 cup breadcrumbs or flour
1 small onion
oil for frying
Salt to taste
1. Mix the quinoa with the egg, the breadcrumbs, the chopped onion and salt.
2. Fry the mixture in portions of about one tablespoon until golden brown.
Enough for 4 servings.
Frying is a type of cooking that requires some considerations:
1) It is not convenient to abuse fried foods because they are like tests for the gallbladder and liver. Therefore, we try to take care of the quality of the fry. For this, vegetable oils are more recommended than animal fat. Of the oils, the pure ones are preferable to the mixtures, which suppose a less careful quality. And of the pure oils, those derived from oilseeds such as sunflower and virgin olive are cold extracted, unlike corn and grapes, which must be subjected to a certain temperature, ceasing to be crude oils.
2) The temperature must be hot enough so that when the food is submerged, a layer forms on it that will prevent the frying from "sucking up" oil. This will result in a healthier meal. The ideal temperature is reached when the oil "squeaks" with bubbles and joy, but without being aggressive when adding the food. At this point the flame should be lowered a little to prevent the oil from burning.
3) It is important to drain the food on paper at the end of cooking. A little lemon juice or a few tablespoons of grated raw daikon radish accompanying it are good measures to help our gallbladder and be able to make food a real celebration.
White Manjar of Quinoa
1/2 cup clean quinoa
2 cups of sugar
2 cups milk
cinnamon, cloves and vanilla to taste
1. Boil the quinoa in 1 liter of water with the cinnamon and cloves.
2. Pass the cooked quinoa through a sieve or sieve.
3. Pour it into a clean pot along with the sugar, vanilla and milk, letting it boil until it reaches a point.
4. Serve cold.
3 cups quinoa
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
sugar to taste
fruit as possible
1. Spread the well-washed and damp quinoa on a clean tablecloth. Cover it with another tablecloth.
2. Leave two or three days until it swells. Make it dry in the sun or put in the oven.
3. When it is dry, grind it.
4. Bring the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and fruit to a boil. When it is cooked, strain it and let it cool.
5. At this point, if it is allowed to ripen for two or three days, it can be made chicha. But serve cold immediately.
2 large onions
1 medium carrot
1/2 bell pepper
raw chopped parsley *
2 cups quinoa
4 cups of water
cumin and salt to taste
grated ginger drops
1. Lightly toast the quinoa and cook with the water and a teaspoon of sea salt **. Halfway through cooking season with the cumin.
2. Sauté the chopped onion and leek together with the bell pepper previously burned on the fire and peeled.
3. Aside, the carrot cut into small cubes is cooked with very little water and a pinch of salt, flavored with the grated ginger drops.
4. Add the vegetables to the quinoa, stirring very gently with a fork.
5. Serve decorating with chopped parsley.
* Parsley is very rich in vitamin C, but this is lost when subjected to heat. For this reason, the consumption of "raw" parsley is recommended.
** Common saline salt is subjected to refining processes and contains 99% sodium chloride (NaCl).
The marine, on the other hand, is more suitable for humans, as it contains 88 to 92% NaCl and the remaining 12-8% is made up of valuable marine minerals, which the body needs in minimal quantities, but which are usually absent. in the diet. Its absence may seem insignificant, but it is not. Iodine, for example, affects the normal functioning of the thyroid and its deficiency generates hypothyroidism. Incorporating sea salt as a replacement for common is simple and will undoubtedly bring its benefits.
Quinoa and Pumpkin Pie
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups of pumpkin puree
2 eggs beaten
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large onions
1/2 bell pepper
green onion or parsley
1. Mix the cooked quinoa with the pumpkin puree, the beaten eggs, the cornstarch, the salt and a little bit of pepper.
2. Sauté the onion and bell pepper.
3. On an oiled source spread three tablespoons of breadcrumbs, and have half of the mixture. The onion and bell pepper are spread, and then the remaining half of the mixture. Decorate with the green onion.
4. Cook 30 ′ in a moderate oven.
1 cup of clean quinoa
3 cups of water
pinch of salt
50 grams washed raisins
pieces of cinnamon
piece of lemon peel
1. Cook the quinoa in the water with the pinch of salt, the cinnamon, the cloves, the lemon and the raisins, until the water is consumed.
2. Serve with the grated coconut. If desired, it can be sweetened with honey, although the pinch of salt and raisins will give it a natural sweetness.
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 red bell pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
100 grs. black olives
200 grs. tofu *
1. Boil the tofu for 5 ′. Step on it and drizzle it with soy sauce and olive oil.
2. Sauté the onion and bell pepper.
3. Mix the quinoa, tofu, sauté, egg, olives and parsley.
* Called "tofu" by the Japanese, it is the soybean that, despite the myths, can be difficult for the liver to assimilate due to the integument that covers it.
PESKE is called quínua boiled with milk, served with cheese slices, and it can be served with honey.
LA PIZARA is known as toasted quínua, with added honey before serving.
QUISPIÑAS are preparations that the natives use normally, even more so when they work long hours, or are absent from their homes for several days.
"(…) The selected quinoa is ground and kneaded with weak lime slurries; the dough is made into balls, which are abandoned and exposed to climatic accidents (frosts). The dough that was white in color, acquires a yellowish tone Subsequently, the dough is again beaten and kneaded, giving it shape and size, being subjected to the cooking of the prawns, they must contain a small amount of water, and a third of its quantity is filled with straw, where the small masses that in they are cooked for a short time by the action of steam. "
My grandfather once told me that when he was little neither bread nor rice were so white, because the processes that made the seeds grains to eat were all manual, that is to say, threshing was done with blows and, for example, rice only the hard shell came off. There were no polishing machines.
The cereal of the ancient peoples was a WHOLE CEREAL, without refining.
From my grandparents to me everything has changed: the land where I live, the activities I have, the language I speak ... The ways of being a woman and being a man are no longer the same. The world of communications mocking the most distant distances; the times and the values of things, the place of the elderly and even the dangers that threaten life ... Everything has changed profoundly.
However, the essentials of life are eternal.
It will be for me as it was for my grandparents as long as there is the same sun, the same moon and the same stars ...
Since I immersed myself in the world of Andean crops, life has opened windows and doors through which I am getting to know the other Amerika: the indigenous, the black, the telluric, the silently wise, the denied, the hidden ...
I want to especially thank Alicia Jara because through her and her enthusiasm for making food the ally of health, I was able to enjoy the great transformations of my body and my spirit. Thank you for teaching how to make macrobiotics a path of simplicity and joy.
I am grateful to the contagious enthusiasm of Fernando, my brother, who, deciding to adopt Salta as his land, is taking root while making utopias daily ...
I thank all those who, like little ants, are tilling the land with the hoe, and are sowing organic agriculture in all corners ...
I thank my feminist colleagues because with them I learned to look with the eyes of a woman, and today I can unite my personal concern with politics. Thank you because I heard from your mouth: THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL, and my life was ordered ...
I thank the carnivals, the chicha, all of Tilcara, the most beautiful town in the Jujuy ravine ... because I had them present at every step of this work.
I thank Jorge, my older brother, who, with his permanent support, brings me down to the reality of the tangible world (and tangibly lent me his computer ...)
Y doy gracias a la vida, por darme señales para seguir creyendo, que pese a los hipermercados, devoradores de identidad regional, tenemos muchos recursos al alcance de nuestras mano.
Si dejáramos de mirar al abismo, y volviéramos a nuestro alrededor, vamos a encontrar, milagrosamente, que el Universo tiene para todas y todos.
* Por Miriam Libertad Djeordjian