Those Peruvian natives, potatoes, are among myMEGusta’s favorite foods, perhaps because of my Irish heritage, or because I just love these starchy tubers.
My most recent potato extravaganza was in Peru, where hundreds of varieties are grown, including nubby, funny shaped ones in various hues. Yellow ones are particularly popular, especially as an ingredient in causas, a kind of potato cake.
My first encounter with a causa was at Astrid y Gaston, one of Lima’s finest restaurants. It was a little risky (or crazy) to order such a simple dish at this temple of gastronomy, but the idea was intriguing. The caption on my cell phone photo reads “potato sushi”, since that’s exactly what they looked like, and I speculated that this dish might be some kind of fusion of Peruvian potatoes, the national staple, and the influence of Japanese immigrants.
Causas appear all over Peru. They are made with an infinite variety of fillings and toppings, and can be little, like the bite sized ones I first encountered, to a few inches in diameter to large (or small) rolls to pie size.
They can be found at the most upscale restaurants, and at the simplest tables, how the cake is shaped and the kind of garnish being the differentiating factors. Tomato and avocado are the most common garnishes I saw, both in Lima and in the Andes, but just about anything goes.
The common element is the yellow potato mixture created by mashing with seasonings like ground aji peppers (hot and yellow), lemon and mayonnaise, maybe a dash of mustard. The vibrant yellow potatoes which are always used in real causas are not available in the United States, but they are commonplace in Peru’s markets, and some stands even sell peeled, shredded potatoes ready to cook and mash.
Regardless of the potato fakery, causas are within our capacity stateside, and they’re actually fun to make, and tasty, even if not so authentic!