Could the humble potato be a “food heaven” ingredient?
Of course it can be but I never really thought about until I visited an amazing restaurant in Arequipa, Peru which uses potatoes in all of its main dishes. It was such a pleasurable dining experience that I feel the need to write about.It has also given me lots of ideas for teaching about potatoes, which I would like to share with you.
The restaurant is called Hatunpa and is situated just of the main square in Arequipa on Calle Ugarte 208. We booked a table for four as we had read in travel books that it gets very busy.When we arrived, we were greeted with an Irish flag on our table much to my delight. Dotted around the restaurant where flags of all the nationalities eating there with a welcome in their native language.A lovely little gesture which provided a welcoming touch.
The restaurant itself was small but cosy with ornate wollen decorations hanging from the walls. The cooking area was spotless and open planned and you could easily watch the chefs at work. A sink to the left of the kitchen was full of multicoloured Andean and native potatoes with their skins on waiting to be washed.
The placemat on the tables had the flags of countries from around the world and the common name for potatoes in that country e.g in Peru potatoes are called Papa, in Ireland pratai
This has given me an idea for a starter activity when teaching about potatoes. I could ask pupils to match the flag with the names of the potato from 10 countries. This would generate lots of discussion points on types of potatoes, staple foods, cultural differences in cooking, serving and eating potatoes.
In terms of the menu at Hatunpa, you are offered a base of a variety of boiled potatoes and you chose your desired topping. So between us all we choose a chicken and vegetable based topping, an alpaca based topping and a ratatouille topping. You can also order sides of fresh creamy avocado, quinoa or more potatoes.
Within 25 minutes of our dishes arriving all our plates were clean and the temptation to lick them to ensure every morsel of food was ingested was strong. My husband and I decided that we would rate our dishes which were Lomo Saltoda Acapa and Hatunpa (see menu photos for list of ingredients in these dishes). We unanimously agreed that our dishes deserved the top rating as in 10 out of 10.The flavour combinations and range of textures and seasoning were delectably moorish.
My husband decided to try dulce de quinoa for dessert, which was made up of quinoa mixed with milk and cinnamon and served cold. It was surprisingly tasty and a clever idea to have quinoa which is high in vegetable protein as an addition to a main meal high in carbohydrates.
So from my visit to Hatunpa, I have gained lots of recipe ideas many of which could be classed as high skilled recipes; for example many recipes include skills as boiling potatoes combined with marinating meat, working with high risk foods to making a roux sauce. Check out the photos of the menus below if you are interested in recreating some of these dishes in your classroom or your own kitchen.
I spoke to the owner of the restaurant and told him that I taught children about food and nutrition and that his restaurant had given me lots of ideas of how to liven up lessons on potatoes. He very kindly give me his permission to write about his restaurant and he and his hardworking staff stopped briefly from their busy working stances to pose for a picture.
So if you happen to go to Arequipa drop into Hatunpa and experience its wonderful service and food for yourself. If that is not possible then perhaps be inspired by the photos of their menus and dishes. I certainly am and I’m looking forward to trying out some recipes when I return to the UK.
Happy ‘spud ‘ ‘pratai’ ‘papa’ cooking or whatever you call them!