Jul 162018
 

Today is an extremely important anniversary in the history of the struggle for independence from Spanish rule in South America. On this date in 1809 Pedro Domingo Murillo initiated an uprising in La Paz against the Spanish, which formally marked the beginning of the liberation of South America from Spain. In a speech to the people on this day he said that the Bolivian revolution was igniting a lamp that nobody would be able to extinguish. A similar uprising occurred in the city of Sucre simultaneously. This event is known as El Primer Grito Libertario de América (The First American Cry for Liberty).

The timing was, of course, critical: Spain was occupied with the Napoleonic Wars. In 1808, Napoleon had installed his brother, Joseph, as king of Spain (where he was deeply unpopular), triggering a major revolt of Spanish forces, who joined with Britain in the Peninsular War. The Peninsular War overlaps with what the Spanish-speaking world calls La Guerra de la Independencia Española (Spanish War of Independence), which began with the Dos de Mayo Uprising on 2nd May 1808 and ended on 17th April 1814. The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. As such, Spain was not in a strong position to fight rebels in South America, yet was still very much dependent on resources from the colonies. Nonetheless, there were royalist Spanish forces garrisoned throughout South America, and the fight for independence was no cake walk.

Although Spain maintained a tight hold on La Paz, communication between South America and Spain took months or longer by sea. At the turn of the 19th century, unrest against Spanish control was widespread among both indigenous populations and Spanish descendants born in South America (criollos). In 1781, for a total of six months, a group of Aymara people laid siege to La Paz. Under the leadership of Tupac Katari, they destroyed churches and government property. Thirty years later indigenous peoples conducted a two-month siege against La Paz. Meanwhile, criollos and mestizos in La Paz were chafing against government from Madrid.

Pedro Domingo Murillo was born in La Paz in 1757. His father, Juan Ciriaco Murillo, was from one of the city’s elite families, whereas his mother Mary Ascencia Carasco was of indigenous stock. Juan Ciriaco was ordained as a Catholic priest soon after Pedro’s birth (rules concerning celibacy were quite different at the time). Juan took charge of Pedro’s early education. It is thought Pedro first attended the Colegio Seminario de San Carlos, in La Paz, and then studied law at St Francis Xavier University of Chuquisaca (later renamed Sucre), but left before completing his studies. By age 21, he had married Olmedo Manuel de la Concha in Potosí, the high-altitude silver mining city at the foot of Cerro de Potosí. By age 24 he had two children, and had moved to Irupana. When Túpac Amaru began his rebellion in 1781 Murillo distinguished himself in the militia and was appointed lieutenant. Subsequently his father died, and he got into a long and complicated legal dispute with his father’s sister over the disposal of the inheritance, which was substantial. Because Murillo forged a number of documents, and claimed he had law license (which he did not), he was held in contempt of court and had to flee the authorities. He was finally pardoned in early 1789, and began working in mining.

As early as 1805, groups, of which Murillo was a member, had begun conspiring against the Spanish government, in the wake of Napoleon’s inroads into Spain, the overthrow of king Charles and refusal to accept his son Ferdinand as king. However, the conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators were brought to trial. The Upper Peru regional government in Chuquisaca, the Real Audiencia of Charcas, became increasingly uneasy about these rebellions, as well as the loyalties of the local governor. Supported by the faculty of St Francis Xavier University of Chuquisaca, they deposed the governor and formed a junta on 25th May 1809.  A self-determination movement kicked off with the incessant ringing of the bell of the St Francis Xavier Basilica in Chuquisaca (nowadays Sucre). Meanwhile, Murillo was plotting back in La Paz, leading to outright rebellion on 16th July. At a self-appointed Junta Tuitiva (“protecting junta”) there a few days later, Murillo demanded the complete secession of upper Peru from the Spanish Empire.

To suppress what had become a serious insurrection, royalist troops were dispatched, some from the Viceroyalty of Peru and others from Buenos Aires. Though some regiments comprising indigenous people refused to intervene against a patriotic movement, the uprising was suppressed. Murillo had to flee, but was captured. He was hanged, along with others, on 29th January 1810, when he made the following statement:

Compatriots, I die, but tyrants won’t be able to extinguish the torch I ignited. Long live freedom!

In 1825, after the decisive victory of the republicans at Ayacucho over the Spanish army in the course of the Spanish American wars of independence, the city’s full name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho (The Peace of Ayacucho).

Every 16th July in La Paz, the local populace honors the patriotic deeds of 1809. A regional celebration begins when the various national and local authorities collaborate to light the Torch of Liberty at what is called the house of the martyr. There follows a parade through central La Paz known as the “Parade of Torches” celebrating Murillo’s famous declaration.

Perhaps the most suitable Bolivian dish to honor Murillo is fricasé, a traditional soup/stew featuring pork, hominy, chuño, onion, garlic, and spices. Fricasé is a popular dish in Bolivia, and is often sold and eaten in the morning (sometimes as a hangover cure). Good luck finding all the right ingredients if you don’t live in South America. Chuño  is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by the Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru, and is known in various countries of South America, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru.

To make it is a five-day process, involving exposing a frost-resistant variety of potatoes to the very low night temperatures of the Andean Altiplano, freezing them, and subsequently exposing them to the intense sunlight of the day. The word comes from Quechua ch’uñu, meaning ‘frozen or wrinkled potato.’ Some people substitute regular potatoes, but this is frowned upon. The aji pepper, or yellow pepper, is a very hot chile commonly used in Bolivian cooking, and hard find elsewhere. Fricasé is usually served with llajua (or llajwa) a spicy sauce prepared from locoto chiles and tomatoes along with quirquiña (Bolivian coriander) and other local spices according to taste. Ideally you should also have a crispy marraqueta (Bolivian bread) to soak up the broth. Preparation of this dish is not complicated, but it is a rigmarole (as you will see from the recipe). It is one of my favorites.

Fricasé

Ingredients:

2 lb pork ribs or chops, cut in large pieces
½ cup aji amarillo  (see below)
12 black or white chuño (black is preferable)
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 can white hominy
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp dry oregano
salt
4 cups broth

Instructions

Scrub the chuño and soak them in water overnight.

Rub the aji amarillo into the pork. Heat the broth to near boiling and add the pork, garlic, salt, cumin Simmer for around 90 minutes, or until tender.

Simmer the chuño in a separate pot for about 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Add the oregano and bread crumbs to the pork and continue to simmer for 10 minutes,  then add the cooked chuño and hominy and warm through. Serve in deep bowls with llajua (recipe below) on the side, and marraqueta.

It is common in Bolivia to put the chuño and hominy in the soup bowl first and then pour the fricasé on top, rather than cooking everything together. Cook’s choice.

Serves 4

Aji Amarillo

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cups yellow chile sauce (see below)
1 cup beef broth
2 tbs canola oil

Instructions

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the yellow sauce, cumin, broth, and salt, and simmer until the sauce thickens.

Extra can be frozen for later use.

Yellow Chile Sauce

Ingredients

12 dried aji peppers
2 cups water

Instructions

Cut the heads off the dry yellow peppers and remove the stems. Put them in a pot of boiling water and let them boil for about 30 minutes. When the skins start to get loose remove the peppers from the hot water and plunge them in cold water. Remove the skins. You can also remove the seeds if you want the sauce less spicy. Put the peppers and 2 cups of water in a blender and blend for about 2 min until very smooth.

Llajwa

Ingredients

2 large jalapenos, minced
2 large tomatoes diced finely
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp red onion, peeled and minced finely
salt

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly with salt to taste.

Nov 072017
 

On this date in 1908 Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, usually known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, died in San Vicente in southern Bolivia under slightly mysterious circumstances, and their deaths have sometimes been challenged by historians. I think there is little doubt, however, that this was the end of the road for the duo. While it is true that they were a bank-robbing partnership in South America their status as a duo is overblown by media, especially the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It is closer to the truth to say that for several years Parker was the leader of what became known as Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, and Longabaugh was a member whom Parker recruited. When the gang split up in 1901, Parker and Longabaugh relocated to Patagonia in Argentina to escape relentless pursuit in the US by detectives from the Pinkerton agency, so their real partnership began in South America where they lived for 7 years.

In early 1894, Parker became involved romantically with outlaw and rancher Ann Bassett. Bassett’s father, rancher Herb Bassett, did business with Parker, supplying him with fresh horses and beef. That same year, Parker was arrested at Lander, Wyoming, for stealing horses and possibly for running a protection racket among the local ranchers there. He was imprisoned in the Wyoming State Prison in Laramie, Wyoming. After serving 18 months of a two-year sentence, Parker was released and pardoned in January 1896 by Governor William Alford Richards. He became involved briefly with Ann Bassett’s older sister, Josie, before returning to Ann.

Parker associated with a broad circle of criminals, most notably his closest friend William Ellsworth “Elzy” Lay, Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, Ben Kilpatrick, Harry Tracy, Will “News” Carver, Laura Bullion, and George “Flat Nose” Curry, who collectively became the nucleus of the so-called “Wild Bunch”. The gang assembled some time after Parker’s release from prison in 1896 and took its name from the Doolin–Dalton gang, also known as the “Wild Bunch.”

On August 13, 1896, Parker, Lay, Logan and Bob Meeks robbed the bank at Montpelier, Idaho, escaping with approximately $7,000. Shortly thereafter Parker recruited Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, a native of Pennsylvania also known as “The Sundance Kid,” into the Wild Bunch. In early 1897, Parker was joined at Robbers Roost in Utah by Ann Bassett, Elzy Lay, and Lay’s girlfriend Maude Davis. The four hid there until early April, when Lay and Parker sent the women home so that the men could plan their next robbery. On April 22, 1897, in the mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, Parker and Lay ambushed a small group of men carrying the payroll of the Pleasant Valley Coal Company, stealing a sack containing $7,000 in gold, with which they fled again to Robbers Roost.

On June 2, 1899, the gang robbed a Union Pacific Overland Flyer passenger train near Wilcox, Wyoming, a robbery which earned the Wild Bunch a great deal of notoriety and resulted in a massive manhunt. Many notable lawmen of the day took part in the hunt for the robbers, but they were not found. During a shootout with lawmen following the train robbery, both Kid Curry and George Curry shot and killed Sheriff Joe Hazen. Tom Horn, a killer-for-hire employed by the Pinkerton Agency, obtained information from explosives expert Bill Speck about the Hazen shooting, and then passed this information to Pinkerton detective Charlie Siringo, who was assigned the task of capturing the outlaws. The gang escaped to Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming and were sometimes thereafter called the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Siringo became friends with Elfie Landusky, who was using the last name Curry after allegedly becoming pregnant by Kid Curry’s brother, Lonny. Through her, Siringo intended to locate the gang.

On July 11, 1899, Lay and others were involved in a Colorado and Southern Railroad train robbery near Folsom, New Mexico, which Parker may have planned and personally directed. A shootout ensued with local law enforcement, during which Lay killed Sheriff Edward Farr and Henry Love. Lay was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at the New Mexico State Penitentiary.

The Wild Bunch would typically separate following a robbery and flee in different directions, later reuniting at a predetermined location, such as the Hole-in-the-Wall hideout, Robbers Roost, or Madame Fannie Porter’s brothel in San Antonio, Texas. Parker appears to have approached Governor Heber Wells of Utah, (which achieved statehood in 1896), to negotiate an amnesty. Wells appears to have declined, advising Parker to instead approach the Union Pacific Railroad to persuade them to drop their criminal complaints against him. Union Pacific Railroad chairman E. H. Harriman attempted to meet with Parker through his old ally Matt Warner. On August 29, 1900, Parker, Longabaugh, and others robbed Union Pacific train No. 3 near Tipton, Wyoming, violating Parker’s earlier promise to the Governor of Wyoming and ending any chance for amnesty.

Posse for Wild Bunch

On February 28, 1900, lawmen attempted to arrest Kid Curry’s brother, Lonny, at his aunt’s home. Lonny was killed in the shootout that followed, and his cousin Bob Lee was arrested for rustling and sent to prison in Wyoming. On March 28, Kid Curry and News Carver were pursued by a posse from St. Johns, Apache County, Arizona after being identified passing currency from the Wilcox, Wyoming train robbery. The posse engaged them in a shootout, during which Deputy Andrew Gibbons and Deputy Frank LeSueur were killed. Carver and Curry escaped. On April 17, George Curry was killed in a shootout with Grand County, Utah Sheriff John Tyler and Deputy Sam Jenkins. On May 26, Kid Curry rode into Moab, Utah and killed both Tyler and Jenkins in another shootout in retaliation for the deaths of George and Lonny.

Pinkerton agents

Parker, Longabaugh, and Carver traveled to Winnemucca, Nevada, where on September 19, 1900, they robbed the First National Bank of $32,640. In December, Parker posed alongside Longabaugh, Logan, Carver, and Ben Kilpatrick in Fort Worth, Texas for the now-famous “Fort Worth Five” photograph (above). The Pinkerton Detective Agency obtained a copy of the photograph and began to use it for wanted posters. On July 3, 1901, Kid Curry and a group of men robbed a Great Northern train near Wagner, Montana. This time, they took over $60,000 in cash (equivalent to about $1,750,000 in 2017). The gang split up, and News Carver was killed by a posse led by Sheriff Elijah Briant. On December 12, 1901, Ben Kilpatrick was captured in Knoxville, Tennessee with Laura Bullion. On December 13, during another shootout, Kid Curry killed Knoxville policemen William Dinwiddle and Robert Saylor and then escaped. Despite being pursued by Pinkerton agents and other law enforcement officials, Curry returned to Montana, where he shot and killed rancher James Winters in retaliation for the killing of his brother Johnny years before.

With the gang breaking up, and feeling continuous pressure from the numerous law enforcement agencies pursuing them, Parker and Longabaugh fled to New York City. On February 20, 1901, along with Etta Place, Longabaugh’s female companion, they departed for Buenos Aires aboard the British steamer Herminius. Parker posed as James Ryan, Place’s fictitious brother. They settled in a four-room log cabin on a 15,000-acre (61 km2) ranch that they purchased on the east bank of the Rio Blanco near Cholila, just east of the Andes in the Argentine province of Chubut.

On February 14, 1905, two English-speaking bandits, who may have been Parker and Longabaugh, held up the Banco de Tarapacá y Argentino in Río Gallegos, 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Cholila, near the Strait of Magellan. Escaping with a sum that would be worth at least US$100,000 today, the pair vanished north across the Patagonian steppes. On May 1, fearing that law enforcement had located them, the trio sold the Cholila ranch. The Pinkerton Agency had known their location for some time, but the snow and the hard winter of Patagonia had prevented their agent, Frank Dimaio, from making an arrest. Governor Julio Lezana issued an arrest warrant, but before it could be executed, Sheriff Edward Humphreys, a Welsh-Argentine who was friendly with Parker and enamored of Etta Place, tipped them off.

The trio fled north to San Carlos de Bariloche where they embarked on the steamer Condor across Nahuel Huapí Lake and into Chile. By the end of the year they had returned to Argentina. On December 19, Parker, Longabaugh, Place and an unknown male associate robbed the Banco de la Nación branch in Villa Mercedes, 400 miles (640 km) west of Buenos Aires, taking 12,000 pesos. Pursued by armed lawmen, they crossed the Pampas and the Andes to reach the safety of Chile.

On June 30, 1906, Etta Place decided that she had had enough of life on the run, and was escorted back to San Francisco by Longabaugh. Parker, under the alias James “Santiago” Maxwell, obtained work at the Concordia Tin Mine in the Santa Vera Cruz range of the central Bolivian Andes, where he was joined by Longabaugh upon his return. Their main duties included guarding the company payroll. Still wanting to settle down as a respectable rancher, in late 1907 Parker traveled with Longabaugh to Santa Cruz, a frontier town in Bolivia’s eastern savannah.

The facts surrounding Parker’s and Longabaugh’s deaths are uncertain. On November 3, 1908, near San Vicente in southern Bolivia, a courier for the Aramayo Franke and Cia Silver Mine was conveying his company’s payroll, worth about 15,000 Bolivian pesos, by mule, when he was attacked and robbed by two masked American bandits believed to be Parker and Longabaugh. The bandits then proceeded to the small mining town of San Vicente, where they lodged in a small boarding house owned by a local resident miner named Bonifacio Casasola.

Casasola became suspicious of his two foreign lodgers. A mule they had in their possession was from the Aramayo Mine, identifiable from the mine company’s brand on the mule’s left flank. Casasola left his house and notified a nearby telegraph officer who notified a small Bolivian Army cavalry unit stationed nearby, the Abaroa Regiment. The unit dispatched three soldiers, under the command of Captain Justo Concha, to San Vicente, where they notified the local authorities. On the evening of November 6, the lodging house was surrounded by the soldiers, the police chief, the local mayor and some of his officials, who intended to arrest the Aramayo robbers.

When the soldiers approached the house, the bandits opened fire, killing one of the soldiers and wounding another. A gunfight then ensued. At around 2 a.m., during a lull in the firing, the police and soldiers heard a man screaming from inside the house. Soon, a single shot was heard from inside the house, whereupon the screaming stopped. Minutes later, another shot was heard. The standoff continued as locals kept the place surrounded until the next morning when, cautiously entering, the authorities found two dead bodies, both with numerous bullet wounds to the arms and legs. One of the men had a bullet wound in the forehead and the other had a bullet hole in the temple. The local police report speculated that, judging from the positions of the bodies, one bandit had probably shot his fatally wounded partner-in-crime to put him out of his misery, just before killing himself with his final bullet. In the following investigation by the Tupiza police, the bandits were identified as the men who robbed the Aramayo payroll transport, but the Bolivian authorities didn’t know their real names, nor could they positively identify them. Historians now generally agree that this was the fate of Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid. The movie version of their end is pure fiction:

I thought a classic Bolivian dish would suit the memory of the duo given that they spent the last years of their lives in Bolivia, and what better than the larger-than-life silpancho? Silpancho (from the Quechua Sillp’anchu) comes originally from the city of Cochabamba. When prepared properly, this dish makes a large and filling meal laden with carbohydrates and protein. It’s always too much for me. It consists of a base layer of white rice, followed by a layer of boiled, sliced, and fried potatoes; next, a thin layer of breaded meat (milanesa), followed by a layer of chopped tomato, onion, beet, and parsley mixed together, and topped with either one or two fried eggs.

Do you really need a recipe? Start with a bed of plain boiled white rice. Peel and boil potatoes until they are soft, slice them, and fry the slices a few at a time in hot olive oil until they are golden on both sides. Make one or two milanesas according to the recipe here http://www.bookofdaystales.com/fingerprinting/ . Make sure that all the cooked ingredients are warm when you layer them. I keep them warm in the oven while frying the eggs. Chop and mix together equal portions of tomato, onion and cooked beetroot seasoned with parsley and salt to taste. This part can be done ahead of time. When ready to serve, start frying an egg, remove the heated plate of rice potatoes and milanesa from the oven, add the chopped vegetables on top, finish off with the fried egg and serve.

Aug 062015
 

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On this date in 1825 Bolivia (then Upper Peru) formally declared independence from Spain. I’ll try to tease out the important threads in the drive for independence in Bolivia, although the freedom of South America from Spain is a really tangled skein, with regions fighting alongside one another some of the time and turning against one another at others (not to mention factionalism and numerous divisive issues). This is one small thread.

The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08 by Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces proved critical to the independence struggle in South America as a whole. The overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty and the placement of Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne tested the loyalty of the local elites in Upper Peru, who were suddenly confronted with several conflicting authorities. Most remained loyal to Spain. Taking a wait-and-see attitude, they supported the Junta Central in Spain, a government in the name of the abdicated Bourbon king, Ferdinand VII. Some liberals eagerly welcomed the reforms of colonial rule promised by Joseph Bonaparte. Others supported the claims of Carlota, Ferdinand’s sister, who governed Brazil with her husband, Prince Regent John of Portugal. Finally, a number of radical criollos (persons of pure Spanish descent born in the New World) wanted independence for Upper Peru. Pedro Domingo Murillo led an 1809 revolt in La Paz, claiming an independent state in Upper Peru.

This conflict of authority resulted in a local power struggle in Upper Peru between 1808 and 1810 and constituted the first phase of the efforts to achieve independence. In 1808 the president of the Audiencia (appellate court), Ramón García León de Pizarro, demanded affiliation with the Junta Central. The conservative judges of the Audiencia were influenced, however, by their autocratic royalist loyalties and refused to recognize the authority of the junta because they saw it as a product of a popular rebellion. On May 25, 1809, tensions grew when radical criollos, also refusing to recognize the junta because they wanted independence, took to the streets. This revolt, one of the first in Latin America, was soon put down by the authorities.

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On July 16, 1809, Pedro Domingo Murillo led another revolt by criollos and mestizos (those of mixed European and Indian ancestry) in La Paz and proclaimed an independent state in Upper Peru in the name of Ferdinand VII. The loyalty to Ferdinand was a pretense used to legitimize the independence movement. By November 1809, the cities of Cochabamba, Oruro, and Potosí had joined Murillo. Although the revolt was put down by royalist forces sent to La Paz by the viceroy of Peru and to Chuquisaca by the viceroy of Río de La Plata, Upper Peru was never again completely controlled by Spain.

During the following seven years, Upper Peru became the battleground for forces of the independent Argentine Republic and royalist troops from Peru. Although the royalists repulsed four Argentine invasions, guerrillas controlled most of the countryside, where they formed six major republiquetas, or zones of insurrection. In these zones, local patriotism would eventually develop into the fight for independence.

By 1817 Upper Peru was relatively quiet and under the control of Lima. After 1820 the Conservative Party criollos supported General Pedro Antonio de Olañeta, a Charcas native, who refused to accept the measures by the Spanish Cortes (legislature) to conciliate the colonies after the liberal revolution in Spain. Olañeta, convinced that these measures threatened royal authority, refused to join the royalist forces or the rebel armies under the command of Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre y Alcalá. Olañeta did not relinquish his command even after the Peruvian royalists included him and his forces in the capitulation agreement following their defeat in the Battle of Ayacucho in 1824, the final battle of the wars of independence in Latin America. Olañeta continued a quixotic war until Sucre’s forces defeated his forces, and he was killed by his own men on April 1, 1825, in a battle that effectively ended Spanish rule in Upper Peru.

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In 1825 Bolívar (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/simon-bolivar/), first president of what became known as Bolivia, transferred authority over Upper Peru to his lieutenant, Sucre (1825–28), who called a constituent assembly in Chuquisaca to determine the future of the region. Almost all delegates wanted an independent Upper Peru and rejected attachment to Argentina or Peru. On August 6, 1825, the assembly adopted a declaration of independence. Five days later, the assembly, hoping to placate Bolívar’s reservations about the independence of Upper Peru, resolved to name the new nation after him.

Bolivia’s national cuisine is much like that of most of South America with many Bolivian dishes similar to those of other nations. Saltiñas, for example, are baked empanadas with a different name (an Argentine one). Chanka de pollo is a well-known Bolivian chicken soup that blends European and indigenous influences, and is very popular in cold Andean winters. It is named for the Chanka people who were dominant before the rise of the Inca. It has a base of chicken and chicken broth combined with potatoes, broad beans, and green onions. It can be made in numerous ways. Pictured is a version I made for dinner today. It is common to use peeled, diced potatoes but here I used small, unpeeled ones.

DSC_0821a

Chanka de Pollo

Cover a jointed chicken with rich chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add green onions cut into 1 inch lengths. Bring slowly to a simmer and cook, partly covered, for 30 minutes. Add potatoes and shucked broad beans and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces, shred the meat, and return it to the stock. The soup should be packed with chicken and vegetables, not thin and watery. Serve very hot in deep bowls.

Jun 212015
 

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Today is Willkakuti (Aymara for “Return of the Sun”), Machaq Mara (Aymara for “New Year”), Mara T’aqa, Jach’a Laymi or Pacha Kuti, an Aymara celebration in Bolivia, Chile and in the Southern Peru which commemorates the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It is related to the Inca festival of Inti Raymi http://www.bookofdaystales.com/inti-raymi/ .

Willkakuti was declared a national holiday in Bolivia in 2010 by the government of Evo Morales, despite opposition from the Christian right in Bolivia. In 2013, when the year 5521 of the Aymara calendar was marked, Willkakuti was celebrated in more than 200 places, among them Inkallaqta, Inka Raqay, Samaypata and Uyuni. Its major celebration hub is Tiwanaku.

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The Aymara or Aimara people are an indigenous nation in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America; about 2 million live in Bolivia, Peru and Chile. Their ancestors lived in the region for many centuries before becoming a subject people of the Inca in the late 15th or early 16th century, and later of the Spanish in the 16th century. With the Spanish American Wars of Independence (1810–25), the Aymaras became subjects of the new nations of Bolivia and Peru. After the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile acquired territory occupied by the Aymaras. Aymaras themselves make significant distinctions between Bolivian and Chilean Aymaras.

Archeologists have found evidence that the Aymaras have occupied the Andes, in what is now western Bolivia, southern Peru and northern Chile, for at least 800 years, descended from preceding cultures. Their origin is a matter of scientific dispute. The region where Tiwanaku and the modern Aymaras are located, the Altiplano, was conquered by the Incas under Huayna Capac (reign 1483–1523), although the exact date of this takeover is unknown. It is most likely that the Inca had a strong influence over the Aymara region for some time. At the same time, the architecture for which the Inca are now known appears to have been influenced by the older Tiwanaku style. Though conquered by the Inca, the Aymaras retained some degree of autonomy under the empire.

The Spanish later classified a number of ethnic groups as Aymara in their effort to identify the native peoples. These were identified by chieftaincies and included the following: the Charqa, Qharaqhara, Quillaca, Asanaqui, Carangas, SivTaroyos, Haracapi, Pacajes, Lupacas, Soras, among others. At the time of Spanish encounter, these groups were living throughout the territory now included in Bolivia.

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Linguists think that Aymara was once spoken much further north, at least as far north as central parts of Peru. Most Andean linguists believe that it is likely that the Aymara originated or coalesced as a people in this area. The Inca nobility may have originally been Aymara-speakers who switched to Quechua shortly before the Inca expansion. For example, the Cuzco area has many Aymara place names. The so-called ‘secret language of the Incas’ referred to in historical texts appears to be a form of Aymara.

The Aymaras overran and displaced the Uru, an older population from the Lake Titicaca and Lake Poopó regions. The Uru lived in this area as recently as the 1930s.

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Most present-day Aymara-speakers live in the Lake Titicaca basin, a territory from Lake Titicaca through the Desaguadero River and into Lake Poopo (Oruro, Bolivia) also known as the Altiplano. They are concentrated south of the lake. The capital of the ancient Aymara civilization is unknown. According to research by Cornell University anthropologist John Murra, there were at least seven different kingdoms. The capital of the Lupaqa Kingdom was the city of Chucuito, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

The present urban center of the Aymara region is El Alto, a 750,000-person city near the Bolivian capital, La Paz. For most of the 20th century, the center of cosmopolitan Aymara culture has been Chuquiago Marka (La Paz). Bolivia’s capital was moved from Sucre to La Paz during the government of General Pando (died in 1917) and during the Bolivian Civil War.

The native language of the Aymaras is Aymara. Many of Aymaras speak Spanish as a second language, when it is the predominant language in the areas where they live. The Aymara language has one surviving relative, spoken by a small, isolated group of about 1,000 people far to the north in the mountains inland from Lima in Central Peru (in and around the village of Tupe, Yauyos province, Lima department). This language, whose two dialects are known as Jaqaru and Kawki, is of the same family as Aymara. Some linguists refer to this language as ‘Central Aymara.’ ‘Southern Aymara’ is the language spoken most widely and is spoken by people of the Titicaca region.

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Most of contemporary Aymaran urban culture was developed in the working-class Aymara neighborhoods of La Paz, such as Chijini and others. Both Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia took up the style of wearing bowler hats since the 1920s. According to legend, a shipment of bowler hats was sent from Europe to Bolivia via Peru for use by Europeans working on railroad construction. When the hats were found to be too small, they were given to the indigenous peoples. The luxurious, elegant and cosmopolitan Aymara Chola dress, which is an icon of Bolivia (bowler hat, aguayo, heavy pollera, skirts, boots, jewelry, etc.) began and evolved in La Paz. It is an urban tradition of dress. This style of dress has become part of ethnic identification by Aymara women. Many Aymara live and work as campesinos in the surrounding Altiplano.

will7

Chairo is a traditional stew of the Aymaras . It is made of chuño (freeze dried potatoes), onions, carrots, potatoes, white corn, meat, wheat kernels and pretty much whatever you want to put in. It can also contain herbs and spices such as cumin and coriander. It is native to the region of La Paz, and, although obviously influenced by the cuisines of the Inca and the Spanish, is considered distinctively Aymara. It is the chuño that is the central ingredient. Without it all you have is a regular stew.

Chuño is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Peru. To make it is a five-day process. First you expose a frost-resistant variety of potatoes to the very low night temperatures of the Andean Altiplano, freezing them, and subsequently exposing them to the intense sunlight of the day. The word “chuño “ comes from Quechua ch’uñu, meaning ‘frozen potato’ (‘wrinkled’ in the dialects of the Junín Region).

To prepare chuño for cooking you must first soak it for about 5 hours in cold water. Change the water every hour otherwise the potatoes will have a sour taste. Here’s a pretty typical list of ingredients, which you can vary as you wish.   Modern recipes tend to be European in their methods, that is browning the meat and onions before simmering, and so forth. I imagine that classically everything was just dumped into a large pot over an open fire and simmered until everything was tender and blended. I also suspect that the usual meat was llama which tastes something like lamb or mutton.

will5

Chairo

Ingredients

¼ kg of stewing beef (with bone) cut into 8 pieces
¼ kg chalona (dry and salty lamb meat) cut into 8 pieces
1 tbsp salt
½ cup of peeled Lima beans
½ cup of fresh green peas
½ cup of peeled carrots, cut into thin strips
4 cups of peeled potato, cut into thin strips
1 cup chuño washed, soaked, and peeled
1 cup peeled and cooked white corn
1 cup peeled and cooked wheat grains
1 cup white onion, cut into thin strips
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup green onion, cut into strips

For serving

minced parsley
dried oregano
chopped, fresh hierba buena or mint

Instructions

Place the meats in a large soup pot, cover with water, and simmer until they are tender, 1 to 2 hours.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except those for serving), and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve in deep bowls with the parsley, oregano and hierba buena available for guests to add as they wish.