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Quinoa Comes From Bolivia

Quinoa comes from Bolivia.

Wikipedia says:

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 European 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 non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadors forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.

While Quinoa is a particularly wonderful thing to eat, I don’t just want to eat it, I want to know it. I want to know more about it. Where does it come from? I’ve done lots of Internet searches trying to find out more about this wonderful little seed and the land from which it comes, but other than a few articles, I haven’t found much. Sure I’ve found information, facts, crime stats, but I want to know more.  I want to know what the stars look like from that part of the world.  I want to smell the streets of La Paz. I want to use the public restrooms, buy food from the vendors, cozy up to the locals. (But probably not really because apparently they really like to steal your wallet and they aren’t shy about it either.) I want to spend a day (or 5) trekking the Apolobamba, pooping in holes I’ve dug myself, and using llama dung to fuel the fire that cooks my evening meal. I want to know where quinoa comes from.

This July, Michael, his brother, and I will make the journey from Los Angeles, through Mexico City, past Lima, Peru, to La Paz, Bolivia, where we will learn all about where quinoa really comes from.  We will spend a few days tooling around town before we take a lovely (two day) stroll from Isla del Sol to Lake Titicaca.  (No, I won’t ever be able to say that out loud without chuckling. Titicaca. Titicaca!) After that we’ll take a bus from La Paz to Charazani where we hope to stay in a hotel, take showers, and possibly shave my legs if Mike will let me bring a razor. (I’m only allowed two pairs of panties so I’m guessing a razor is out of the question.) (What? We’re backpacking. Would you want to carry all my extra pairs of panties?) Our goal is to hit Charazani’s winter fiesta (it’s winter there! In July!), but I guess maybe their town has limited Internet because there’s no website or anything, so we don’t know what the exact dates of the festival are. We’ll spend a day or two in Charazani either way, and when we feel nicely acclimated to the 9,600 foot altitude, we’ll hike from Charazani to Pelechuco, which should take four to five days. And it will probably kick our asses.  Apparently, there’s going to be a lot of walking up and down hills. While carrying forty-some-odd-pound backpacks with all of our food, water, and other supplies. And also ziplock bags full of our poopy toilet paper. Because we don’t want to litter.

It’s going to be a Very Big Adventure.

mummybag

Omg, do I really have to sleep in this?

Where Does Quinoa Come From?

I love Quinoa. My mother introduced me to it, but it was GGC who taught me that quinoa is something you can eat a million ways and seventy times a week.

Ok, not that much. Everything in moderation.

My favorite way to eat quinoa is as breakfast (with hot milk, cinnamon, a sprinkle of brown sugar) or instead of pasta. It cooks up super fast, has tons of protein, tastes good, and is way better for you than pasta.

First you clean it. I rinse it the same way I rinse a bunch of grapes, only instead of a regular colander, I use a tiny mesh colander.

rinsed

Then I put it in a little pot with maybe a quarter inch of water on top of it. Like so:

just add water

You want to let it come to a nice boil over medium heat. When it boils, turn the heat way down, cover it, and let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. The water will soak into the seeds until they open and become almost transparent. They are surprisingly beautiful, strange looking little grains.

needs a fluffer

You just can’t tell in this picture.

We like to dish it out, then smother it in homemade pasta sauce and Asiago cheese. We eat it out on the balcony and watch the sun set. And when I try to take a photo of Mike with his wonderful quinoa dinner he says, “Seriously? I’m chewing.”

he is chewing