The Canary Islands: the last redoubt of “Andean potato” in Europe
The Canary Islands were the place where the potato first made its entry into Europe and their geographical isolation has made the archipelago the only area in Europe where you can find “Andean potatoes”.
“"For centuries, usage segmentation has been known in the Canary Islands" “La papa antigua de Canarias” will be the first to receive a DOP "
The Centre for Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity run by the Tenerife Provincial Authority has collected most of the plant material owned by Tenerife farmers and from this they have recorded 116 entries possibly corresponding to around 46 different varieties. From these, around 25 may be ancient potato varieties. Some are triploid potatoes, which only exist in the Andes and never made it to the rest of Europe or the United States. They are black potatoes with yolk, yellow inside and easy to peel. According to the head of the Centre, Domingo Ríos Mesa, “this is a species which only exists in the Andes and in the Canary Islands because the climate in our islands is very similar to that of the Andes”. In addition to the so-called “black potatoes”, the Canary Islands also grow “papas bonitas” (pretty potatoes), an Andean sub-specie which in the Andes and in the Quechua language has a similar name. It was specifically Icod el Alto, an area of “papas bonitas” which was the source of the potatoes brought to Europe in the XVI century. “Papas bonitas” have many different appearances: black, white, coloured, blistered, and mottled. Another interesting group are the “azucenas” (lillies), a potato with an exquisite flavour. In high mountainous areas there is a variety known as “borralla” or “melonera”. A high proportion of dry matter characterises this tuber and it can constitute 35% compared with the 18% usually contained in other mainland potatoes. This peculiarity means they are highly appreciated in cooking.
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