Las Papas

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Las Papas
By ilyssa ye
“Las Papas” is the story about a single man with a child. The story starts in the kitchen where the man was going to cook a dinner for his son and himself. He was about to try out a new Italian recipe for “Chicken cacciatore”, when he received a disapproving remark regarding the dish from his son. Having heard this he suddenly recalls similar event that had happened when he was fifteen and disapproved his father’s cooking by calling it “too spicy”. At the same moment peeling and chopping potatoes he realizes that even though he was born and grew up in Peru, the place where a potato-papas originated, he doesn’t know much about the history of this magnificent vegetable which grows underground without seeing a light and yet it tastes so good, and had been adopted by different cultures throughout the world and remains one of the main ingredients of dishes. In Julio Ortega’s short story “Las Papas”, the father tries to teach his child about history, culture, and family through his cultural food: the potatoes, by cooking them. The father in the short story tries to teach his son about history through the use of potato. Potatoes had originated in Peru, South America, and were adopted by local peoples of both North and South America before the arrival of the Europeans. Through such discoveries potatoes had been brought to Europe and other parts of the world where they were adopted and became one the main ingredients or dishes. The main character in the “Las Papas”- the man who wants to cook a dish with potatoes for his son which would tell him about the history and culture of people, their ancestors, who introduced potatoes to the rest of the world. “Many of them have disappeared forever. The ones that was lost had they been less firmly rooted in the soil? Where they more delicate varieties? Maybe they disappeared when control of the cultivated lands…that the loss of even one domesticated plant makes the word a little poorer, as does the history of lost varieties were written it might prove that no one would ever have gone hungry.”(Pg 311,Ortega) The loss of one domesticated plant makes the world a little poorer' can be compares to how if you lose a work of art or some ancient relic that tells you about your history and culture, that makes the world a little poorer as well because it is losing a bit of its history. Once a variety of potato is gone it is gone forever. The same applies to your history. If you lose your history it is gone, which is why it is important to remain connected to your culture. So maybe that is why the dad cooks the traditional potatoes for his son, because he doesn't want to lose his history. History not only in the country, but cooking the potato is also shows it’s history. “Where’s this food come from?” the child asked, realizing it was a different recipe. “Peru,” he replied. “Not Italy?” said the child surprised. “I’m cooking another recipe now,” he explained. “Potatoes come from peru. You know that, right? (Pg 312, Ortega) When the father was cooking the potato, the child was curious and think that potatoes come from Italy. The father in this story explain to the child that the potato originally comes from Peru not Italy. This shows the history of where potatoes come from. “The entire history of his people was here, he said to himself, surviving in a territory overrun and pillaged several times, growing in marginal spaces, under siege and waiting.” (Pg 314, Ortega) The potatoes represent the history of Peru, just how the potato is misshapen and can adapt to many different lands, the people of Peru are living in tough conditions also have to adapt to many different situations to survives.

The father in the story using the potatoes as a symbol not only teach his child about the history but also culture. Culture is the characteristic and behaviors that is share by a group of people. Every country has their own culture but they all have a different culture. In the story...
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