A traveling quinoa show created by Bolivian artist Gaston Ugalde and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Plurinational State of Bolivia is visiting the Coral Gables Museum from March 14 to March 20, 2013.
All of a sudden, quinoa is becoming popular. I first saw it in health food stores years ago. Now it’s on the shelves of supermarket chains. The United Nations has declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa” to recognize the Andean indigenous peoples, who have maintained, controlled, protected, and preserved quinoa as food for present and future generations thanks to their traditional knowledge and practices of living well in harmony with mother earth and nature.
Quinoa grows high in the Andes Mountains. It was an important source of nourishment for the Incas and a sacrament in their religion for over 2,000 years. The Spanish Conquistadors and the Roman Catholic Church actively discouraged its cultivation, encouraging the indigenous farmers to grow wheat instead.
“Nonetheless, quinoa never disappeared from the Andean dining table,” says Ugalde in Andean Quinoa. A future sown thousand of years ago, an exhibition guide prepaired for this show. “In fact it survived, backed by the resistance of the Andean people, who risked their lives by secretly cultivating and consuming quinoa. Their decision and courage prevented quinoa’s extinction.
“Bolivia and Peru have the greatest varieties of quinoa. There are over 3,000 ecotypes. Bolivia has the unique royal quinoa, which has 18 ecotypes.”
What to look for
Quinoa comes in white, red, and black varieties. White is the highest grade. Others are a mix between the white and the black. “Soon we will introduce a tricolor blend,” says Jennifer Schnorr of Quinoa Corporation in Gardena, California, one of the largest sellers of quinoa. “My father purchases quinoa in Bolivia directly from the growers.”
The Coral Gables Museum’s exhibit also features phullu (Andean weaving) and a Bolivian totora reed boat. The museum is at 285 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables FL 33134.
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