Monday, June 21, 2010

Would You Like to Know More About Quinoa?: All About this Peruvian Cereal

Quinoa is a cereal grain from the Andes of Peru and South America, closely related to the amaranth. Quinoa´s origins are truly ancient. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, used by the Inca civilization.

Quinoa was known then, and is still nowadays known, as the mother grain. Each year the Inca, using a golden spade, planted the first quinoa seeds of the season, and at the solstice, priests bearing gold vessels filled with quinoa made offerings to their god Inti, the Sun. The grain thrives at high altitudes of approximately 9,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level.

Quinoa (pronounced kee-noo-ah) contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Its protein is of an unusually high quality, with an essential amino acid balance similar to milk. Quinoa, combined with other grains or soy will boost their protein value. It also provides starch, sugars, oil (high in essential linoleic acid), fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Easy on the stomach

Quinoa is light, tasty and easy to digest. It has a delicious flavor of its own.

Delicious and extremely versatile

It may be used in place of almost any other grain, including rice, to make everything from appetizers to desserts. Just takes 15 minutes to prepare a whole dish.

Perfect for summer and winter

Quinoa´s lightness makes it easy to combine in cold dishes like salads, ideal source of good summertime nutrition for grownups and children. In winter it can be eaten hot, combined with meats or vegetables.

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How to Prepare the Real Peruvian Pisco?: History and Ingredients

Peruvian Pisco is a grape brandy or "aguardiente", distilled from fresh grape. Its alcohol content is around 42°. The word "Pisscu" means seagull in quechua, the Inca language. It is also the name of the port from where it was shipped, as can be seen in maps dating back to the late sixteenth century.

The four Pisco varieties are defined by flavor, according to the grape which has been used:
Pisco puro with a delicate flavor (from non-aromatic grapes such as Quebranta, Mollar or black grapes):

  • Pisco Aromatico (aromatic grapes such as Moscatel, Italia, Torontel and Albilla);
  • Pisco Acholado (mixture of different grape varieties) and
  • Pisco Mosto Verde (from grape that has not been fully fermented)
Pisco is the product of good grapes, good soil and an optimum climate. These virtues are to be found in the pisco-making valleys starting at Cañete, 90 miles south of Lima, Perú. The pisco grapes require a loose sandy loam with high salinity, where its roots can grow deep, and with a pH (a measure of the acidity of the soil) between 6,6 and 7,5. The composition of the soil and the temperature in these valleys enable the grapes to grow vigorously and prodigiously, with sufficient sugar to make a good pisco.

Obviously, each valley has its own preferred varieties, which have their own characteristics. Altitude varies from sea level to 4 900 ft.

Most pisco producers are in the south of the country. This core area includes the places where liquor was distilled in colonial times. It has its own history and although many distilleries have disappeared, or only vestiges remain, many have a lineage going back many generations and preserve the tradition of Peruvian pisco. This phenomenon of family ties can be seen in both artisanal and industrial production.

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