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THE POTATOES: THE FOOD OF THE GODS

(3rd /8 PART “THE BLACK LIST OF FORBIDDEN PLANTS” )

For the Andean Indians, the potato was a divine gift that prevented their extinction and provided them with strength to defend themselves against their enemies .

According to a study from the University of Wisconsin , the potato could have existed 8,000 years ago . Originally from South America , specifically from the Andes . It is known that the Inca peoples of the highlands of Peru and Bolivia consumed it as a staple food for more than 5,000 years .

According to the Andean conqueror, historian and chronicler Pedro Cieza de León , the first time they met this tuber was in the Grita Valley ( Colombia) in 1537.

Since then it was introduced and known in Europe but its human consumption was introduced with suspicion and distrust . Cieza advised its consumption but avoiding a “magical” blessing that the natives made to their seeds before being sown.

In this ritual, the peasants dipped the potato seeds in the blood of a llama calf (a typical animal of the Andean highlands), that is, young and without defect. Diego Dávila Briceño , corrector of Huarochirí, near Lima, Peru. He recommended the potato but forbade the ritual as considered idolatry.

In a book of the company of Jesus, Father José de Acosta 1540 to 1600 narrates how the Spanish conquistadores on his return from the Grita Valley, in Colombia of 1537, recounted just like the chronicler and conqueror Pedro Cieza as the natives ate a kind of testicles that they took from below the soil.

potatoes  cultivation ground mold vegetable

The first written record on the cultivation of potatoes in Europe is from a notarial deed written in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, from 1567 where the shipment to Antwerp Belgium have several bags of potatoes.

It was usually food for the disinherited and marginalized , as well as for animals . It was said that fattening the farmers and the poor, and that the pigs ” made excellent bacon .” with it. The ” food of the poor “is considered potato for a long time.

In 1573 it is recorded that it was eaten in the hospital of a religious community in Seville . In general it was the main food in times of misery and war and therefore food for soldiers .

The potato was brought from the New World to Europe , along with corn in the fourteenth century . But initially it was cultivated as food for animals .

Like all exotic plants brought from America, they were initially used to decorate the gardens . The first potato that entered Italy was presented as a gift to Pope Pius IV by the King of Spain Felipe II in 1565 .

In Italy they were called “tartufolli”, that is truffles . In 1567 , Pope Pius IV brought a potato plant in the Netherlands as a gift to Philippe di Sivry , who sent it to the Botanical Garden in Vienna . Its director Charles de l’Eclusela called it “Patate peruviarum” and cultivated it next to the tomato.

At first in Europe it was considered as a decorative rarity that was cultivated not because of its roots.

The clergy and the powerful social classes cultivated it to eat its fruits, not its roots . This sometimes caused a stomachache or even slight poisoning and hence began prejudices against the potato .

It was considered guilty of parasites or venereal diseases for two centuries. It was thought to transmit syphilis, tuberculosis, rickets and even obesity . This last conviction, still exists today .

It was a long time until it became a basic food in Europe . In other words, the replacement of the grain that was until then the base of the food.

flowers potatoes
Flower “potatoes”

Its similarity with ” belladonna “, whose plant was suspected of containing a magical and poisonous substance . It was used by women since the Middle Ages to dilate the pupils and beautify the appearance. All this made it blacklisted for prohibited plants .

plant belladona
“Belladonna”

Actually, ” belladonna ” contains atropine , an alkaloid substance that is currently used in ophthalmology and has a wide range of effects. It was believed that witches used it as an ointment and gave it power to fly.

The Spanish Holy Inquisition (which already had precedents in similar institutions already existing in Europe since the twelfth century , such as that of France in 1148 ), pursued all kinds of heresy and witchcraft , and as we know the latter was very bequeathed to the ” magical powers ”of plants .

In the National Historical Archive of the Spanish Holy Inquisition of 1604 , an episode occurred in Cádiz, Spain , referring to a 15-year-old boy named Ambrosio Guillermo .

book  old antique olden

In the text it is narrated that the boy while he was at Sunday Mass, just at the time of the consecration , he raised a slice of potato . Then he ate it together with a glass of wine . This fact was considered sacrilege by the Holy Inquisition and many other sacrileges are counted in the same register.

According to the American anthropologist Robert E. Rhoades , famous for his work on the National Geographic , the Scottish clergy forbade their parishioners to grow potatoes because considered as an undignified food for human consumption, because the Bible not mention it not at all .

The first edition of the British encyclopedia published in 1768 and in 1771 states that it is a demoralizing food , even a group of activists tried to banish the potato from the British soil .

According to José A . Ferrer Benimelli , in a record found that it is noted that in a ship departing from the Canary Islands , which carried Jesuits expelled from Spain by order of King Carlos III to the New World, an abbot embarked on the ship to have food , among others stuff, 3 sacks of potatoes .

This congregation was expelled from the kingdom of Spain in 1767 , 17 years before a royal decree signed by Carlos III advised the consumption of potatoes .

In fact, its long conservation has made it a very popular vegetable for long trips .

book old

When the potato was still fundamentally considered a ” pig food “, in the February 4, 1797 publication of the ” Seminar on Agriculture and Arts addressed to the parishes “, (magazine founded by order of Godoy), in volume XV, where the superior orders were usually written for the priests that indicated the spiritual rules to follow, a very curious recommendation appeared : “ the usefulness of potatoes as human food for the rest of the population ”, signed by an anonymous with initials “ BLM chaplain de Linares ” (Linares de Riofrío) in the archbishopric of Salamanca, Spain.

THE POTATO IN ANDEAN MYTHOLOGY

machu pichu peru andes
“Machu Pichu” Andes

According to Andean mythology for thousands of years, the dreaded quinoa growers dominated the peasant villages of the Andes highlands . The arid climate of height allowed nothing to grow .

“Quinoa” cultivation

The tyrant cultivators decided to let them starve by reducing the rations. The desperate peasants implored the gods , who sent round and fleshy seeds . Once planted there were some plants with blue flowers .

Their enemies let them cultivate them , convinced that nothing would come out or else they would take them away.

When the plants turned yellow and dry , they dragged the fields taking away what was left of the plant, to see if it could be edible. Disconsolate with nothing to feed on, they implored the gods who told them to remove the soil and take out their hidden fruits and hide them from evil men.

For a while they hid the harvest until they became strong and then decided to attack their invaders , they fled and never returned.

Curiously in the Thirty Years’ War , something similar happened. The Germans planted potatoes in the devastated fields to post, to make recover the population that had been diminished.

Another story of Andean mythology tells what happened to a surviving woman of the first Andean. In time of misery , a woman wandered hungry until exhausted and she fell asleep . The gods made a son , but he died . His remains were scattered on the ground .

corn vegetable

Shortly after on the ground , plants began to grow. From the teeth , the corn grew . Of the long bones , the yucca and the testicles, the potato. From the eyes and the head, other edible plants.

potatoes cultivation

The gods rewarded men to never go hungry .

BELIEFS

Throw before starting to sow the first potato behind the back, so that it produces many potatoes and large.

The peasants have a magnet stone so that the seeds have better production.

Do not throw potato peels into the sea, otherwise the next plantings will go wrong.

Do not count the potatoes, otherwise you will never have plenty.

If a potato falls while cooking, a visit will arrive soon.

If a woman is found when they are going to sow potatoes, something will go wrong.

Do not sow in the crescent of the moon, otherwise potatoes will grow with roots.