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You Say Potato, I say Pastusa

January 27, 2011

Papas sabaneras, criollas and pastusas

Growing up in the States I only really knew of one potato- the Idaho potato.  You just go to your local grocery store or Wal-mart and there it would be.  Glistening, ok not really glistening.  Boringly staring at your with those brown eyes looking as if it had rolled around in dirt for 3 days.  That’s the type of potato I knew.

However, after living here in Bogotá, I’ve come to learn that there are different types of potatoes that serve different purposes.  Who would have known? I sure didn’t. So let me share a bit of what I’ve learned about these beauties.  As I don’t look at them as the sad dirty vegetable that I thought they were.

Side Note: Papa means Potato in English

Papa Tequerreña a.k.a Papa Sabanera

The papa sabanera is a potato who’s skin is purplish in color.  Is purplish a word? Who cares, I’m making it mine.  Ok, moving on. It’s a fairly hard potato.  In the sense that it doesn’t cook down to a rich soft consistency. It is used in traditional dishes here in Colombia:

  • Ajiaco (A-hee-a-ko) A traditional soup from Bogotá that is comparative to chicken soup
  • Asados (Ah-sah-dough) Grilled meat dishes. As a side dish, it is generally steamed and covered in salt.

This type of potato is cultivated in cold and rainy climates.  But can be grown in just about in region of Colombia.  The most prodominant areas where it is cultivated is:

  • Cundinimarca
  • Boyacá
  • Tolima
  • Santander
  • Huila
  • Magdalena

Papa Criolla

The papa criolla is a tiny, small golden potato.  It reminds me a lot of fingerling potatoes. This potato has been in the Colombian vocabulary for years upon years.  Dating back to pre-colombian eras and spanning from the Andes all the way down to Colombia and past Bolivia. With this potato you don’t have to peel anything.  Isn’t that great news!? Ok, this is the part where you’re supposed to get excited. I know I hate peeling potatoes so for me this is a bonus. There are three different types of sizes: small, medium and large. It is a bland type of potato that is used a lot in soups and by itself.  Some ways of preparation are:

  • Pasabocas (fritas) (Fried H’ors douevres) Usually the small potatoes are used for this.
  • Asados (Grilled dishes) Normally the medim sized potatoes are used as a side dish to accompany a grilled steak or any grilled item such as pork or chicken
  • Sopas (Soups) The large golden potato is showcased in soups.
  • Pures (Mashed Potatoes) Pureed or mashed potatoes are also a favorite here, using again, the large potato.

Dishes that use the papa criolla:

  • Ajiaco
  • Sopa de pescado
  • Crema de papa criolla
  • Sancocho
  • Cuchucho de trigo
  • Pipian de papa criolla
  • Mondogo

Areas of cultivation in Colombia:

  • Cundinamarca
  • Boyacá
  • Tolima
  • Santander
  • Nariño
  • Antioquia
  • Cauca
  • Caldas

Papa Pastusa

This is the mother of all potatoes.  It’s like your friendly Idaho potato that you can find in any Harris Teeter, Wal-mart, Piggly-Wiggly, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Food Lion or grocery store that is near you.  It’s used for so many dishes.  Mainly, in the same above mentioned dishes.  They are grown in all the potato regions of Colombia:

  • Cundinamarca
  • Boyacá
  • Tolima
  • Santander
  • Nariño
  • Antioquia
  • Cauca
  • Caldas

You could use this potato in any kind of soup, as mashed potatoes, as french fries or any dish that calls for potatoes.

Here’s a map of Colombia indicating all the cultivating locations.

Colombia and the potato cultivating regions

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2011 5:19 pm

    Wow, this is one awesome, informative post. And I love the earthy potato rainbow shot! Yay!

    • February 9, 2011 5:41 pm

      Wow, well thanks for the comment. And the best thing is that you’re from Charlotte. Woo hoo! I’m glad someone likes it. We figured someone might enjoy a some facts about the complicated life of a potato. The picture is awesome, right? We stumbled across this and we just had to put it in there.

  2. Wilson permalink
    April 14, 2011 12:56 am

    Im Colombian and looking for fresh papa criolla in the NY area, theres actually a golden potato variety in the Hispanic stores around here .. sadly.. not papa criolla!! i might get some seeds from down south. and also.. Bolivia (not Bolibia) is south of Colombia. just saying…


    • April 15, 2011 1:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment and correction. And you’re right, big oversight on our part. Thanks.

    • May 8, 2011 7:43 am

      If you do get some seeds please share, I have been looking for REAL papas criollas to grow, buy or eat for years and have not even come close to finding some! So sad that in this day and age of international interlinking via travel and internet, that this little wonderful potato is still so illusive to those who seek it!

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