Sheryl Perez Castillo's roots are in Peru, the homeland of the potato. Her visit to a Zurich farmers' market therefore raises the question: what to cook? And also: will Switzerland pass the potato test?
"I love potatoes," says Sheryl Perez Castillo. The rain clouds have cleared from the centre of Zurich and the farmers' market on Bürkliplatz is awakening. Even before work starts, the assistant at Walder Wyss is strolling among the fresh butter plaits, the colourful cut flowers and the draped vegetables. She talks about her great love.
There are over 4,000 different varieties of potatoes in her home country of Peru. They range from aubergine to orange, from tart to sweet, and from the size of a fist to the size of a nut. The Incas were the first people in the world to cultivate the tuber around 10,000 years ago. Even today, the tubers bear names in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people. "Knowledge and tradition are passed down from generation to generation," says Sheryl Perez Castillo.
"POTATOES TASTE VERY DIFFERENT HERE."
And that is how it was passed down to her family too: the holes that her uncle had dug in the ground when he visited her three years ago were very small. He lives with his family, hens, mares and bees on a small farm in Agua Blanca, a district in the Amazon. "You have to be really skilled," Perez Castillo recalls. "Otherwise the seeds will fly over the holes."
"POTATOES TASTE VERY DIFFERENT HERE."
Swiss potato culture works differently. While walking through Bürkliplatz, Sheryl Perez Castillo encounters a whole of five varieties: floury, firm, sweet, Italian and Cyprus. But as we all know, love knows no bounds. Not even when it comes to the most Swiss way of dealing with the potato, the Rösti. "Potatoes taste very different here," says Sheryl Perez Castillo. "But I still like them – even as Rösti."
Recipe for Causa Limeña
"The Causa is a real explosion of flavour. When preparing potatoes, we mash them and then lay them out, sometimes metres long. We top the mixture with various ingredients, then roll it into a roulade and cut it into pieces. The turrets look like little cakes. My mother prepares the Causa with Swiss potatoes. It tastes good, like everything my mother cooks. But to get the real flair and taste, it is worth visiting Peru."
"A SELF-MADE CAUSA FROM MY VISIT TO PERU IN 2019, DIRECTLY FROM OUR KITCHEN."
Ingredients for 4 people:
● 1 kg of potatoes (floury)
● 1 handful of coriander sprigs
● 3 tbsp of Ají Amarillo paste (yellow chilli paste)
● 100 ml of sunflower oil
● 100 g of cooked carrots
● 100 g of cooked beetroot
● 6 tbsp of mayonnaise
● 1 Ají Limo, seeded and finely chopped
● 1 small red onion
● 1 ripe avocado
● Salt and pepper
● Chicken or tuna, pre-cooked
● Black olives
● 1 boiled egg and Ají
● Vegetables of choice (e.g. hot peppers)
How to prepare mashed potatoes:
Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, peel the carrots and beetroot and cut them into small cubes. Boil the carrots as well.
Mash the potatoes and add a pinch of salt and Ají Amarillo paste. Continue mashing and gradually add all the sunflower oil until you have a soft, homogeneous mixture.
Wash the coriander and then chop it into small pieces. Put one third of the leaves aside for the filling and stir the rest into the mashed potatoes. Leave to cool.
How to prepare the filling:
Mix the cooled carrots and the beetroot in a bowl. Wash and core the Ají Limo, then cut into small pieces. Chop the red onion and add it together with the Ají Limo, the mayonnaise, the remaining coriander and the lime juice to the carrot and beetroot mixture, then stir.
Tower of Causa:
For a small Causa, you need a round mould with a diameter of 8 to 10 cm. For a large Causa, use the ring of a springform pan.
Place the mould on a plate. Place a layer of mashed potato on the bottom and press down. Cut the avocado into thin slices and spread on the layer of mashed potatoes. Put a layer of carrot and beetroot mixture on top and add another layer of mashed potatoes, then another layer of carrot and beetroot mixture (or optionally the tuna or chicken filling). Finish with a final layer of mashed potatoes.
Carefully remove the ring. Garnish the Causa with some vegetable filling, black olives, slices of boiled egg, chopped coriander, some avocado or a little mayonnaise, according to taste.
Buen Provecho – Enjoy your meal!
Sheryl Perez Castillo
worked as an apprentice at Walder Wyss in Zurich for two years. During her apprenticeship, she changed departments every year. This allowed her to get to know the Tax and Real Estate & Construction departments – and also to gain an insight into the accounting, housekeeping and reception departments. Not only her curiosity, but also her love for languages benefited her; during dictations, she was sometimes asked to write down individual words in Spanish. She recently successfully completed her apprenticeship. She now works as a permanent assistant in the RCTI Group. Sheryl Perez Castillo lives in Dübendorf, her mother is Peruvian and her father Dominican.