Monday, February 13, 2006

Causa: A Unique Potato Starter

Causa is very unique Peruvian dish.

Served cold as a starter, or as a light meal, it is a seasoned mashed potato terrine, stuffed with
tuna, egg, shrimp, or avocado. It is often topped with ají­ or black olives.

Some people say it looks like a potato pie while others call it a potato cake.

Whatever it is, causa is quite good.

In conducting research for this post, I've come across three different versions of the origins of causa.

The pre-Hispanic version.

According to Peruvian gastronomic historian Rodolfo Tafur, the word causa comes from the Quechua word kausay, which means 'life' or 'sustenance of life'.

At its most essential pre-Hispanic roots, this dish was simply boiled potato eaten with slices of ají­, a dish combining two key Andean crops: potatoes and ají

The Colonial version.

Causa limeña, or Lima-style causa, was first made in the Colonial period. The Spanish knew the pre-Hispanic dish kausay, and they took the simple potato dish, and incorporated other ingredients depending on what was available: fish, olives, or avocado.

The Republican version.

One story says that causa was invented by a well-bred Lima hostess who, on short notice, had to feed a battalion of soldiers celebrating Peruvian Independence Day. All she had on hand were some potatoes which she cooked, mashed, and seasoned, some eggs which she boiled and sliced, and some black olives which she placed on top of the assembled dish.

Whatever the origin of causa may be, there is no doubt that this unique dish is in a constant state of evolution.

I'm going to find and post some links for causa recipes on a later post.

click here to discover where in Miraflores you can sample 38 different types of causas

click here to read some recipes for causa in English

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


Anonymous said...

My wife just reminded me, we had Causca (the top pic version) in '99 when we visited Peru. We were on a group bus tour visiting what I think is the last rope bridge in Peru, a 12 hour round trip somewhere South and West of Cusco. (it's rebuilt every year in a big festival.) We had it cold for lunch at the bridge. It was very tasty, and a perfect choice for a picnic lunch. Thanks for a great site, and reminding us of the great food we had on our visit to Peru.

Elena Hernandez said...

Se ve deliciosa esa Causa. En Panama tenemos un restaurante de cocina peruana, La Jarana, que sirve Causa rellena de Atún..verdaderamente rica! Saludos, Elena

Anonymous said...

Mr. Alejandro , simplemente maravillosisismo su raceta sobre la CAUSA ,para chuparse los dedos (si lo haces con papa amarilla),segui los pasos con papas de Ohio y resultaron buenisimas. Sin duda eres el mejor. Saludos David.