As we rose in elevation throughout the regions of Peru we saw the farm crops of quinoa on hills and mountainous ranges. While stopping at a local eatery we tasted the quinoa fresh from the region and fell in love with this grain. It was fresh, light and filling – it is one of those moments where you reconnect to the organic or the original purpose of an item and in this case it was the best quinoa we every had.
Quinoa has become increasingly popular all over the world, and a majority of the production takes place in Peru. According to Wikipedia, the Andean people first domesticated quinoa around 3,000 years ago. Quinoa has been an important staple in the Andean cultures where the plant is indigenous, but relatively obscure in the rest of the world. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or “mother of all grains,” and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using “golden implements.” During the Spanish conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as “food for Indians,” and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.