The winters in Puno, Peru can be frightfully cold. Over 12,000 feet above sea-level, and exposed to harsh winds from the south, the southern Peruvian altiplano can see temperatures that drop well below freezing.
While the conditions are incredibly harsh during the winter months, the population does take advantage of the weather to create a traditional treat: thayacha de isaño.
Thayacha de isaño is a traditional ice cream made out of the isaño, a potato relative native to Puno. According to a report by RPP, the ice cream is prepared by first leaving the tubers out in the sun, then mashing and stewing them, adding a touch of sugar, and leaving the mush outside or on top of a roof. Because of the cold temperatures, no refrigeration is needed for the isaño to freeze into an ice cream.
According to local tradition, isaño is good for treating various illnesses, and studies have found it to possess gluconisolates, which, while toxic at very high doses, might have a number of health benefits at lower doses. Thayacha de isaño is generally produced for personal consumption, though it is sometimes offered for sale at some festivals.
Cover photo: El Portal Melgar Facebook Page
This article written by Nick Rosen, has been updated from its original publication on June 22, 2012.
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