At Sydney’s rather hip and alternative Marrickville Markets, somebody offered me some quinoa chocolate. It was good dark chocolate, which completely masked any flavour of the little red seedy things dotted through it.
These little red seeds have become very popular here during the months we’ve been out of the country. I don’t know why. It’s not like quinoa is a new product.
Someone in the Andes first domesticated quinoa 3000-4000 years ago, and they were eating it in Peru, Ecuador and Columbia for a few thousand years before that. Archaeologists have dug up really old evidence of really old native quinoa.
We missed its introduction to Australia. So someone had to tell us, rather scornfully, that it’s not pronounced ‘kwin-ower’ but ‘keen-waa’. It’s Spanish, they said.
Maybe those Andean kids whine at dinner time, ‘Aw mum, we’re not having quinoa again!’ Maybe Ecuadorean supermarket products proudly boast,’97% Quinoa Free’. Here across the Pacific Ocean it’s still such an exotic delicacy that people are prepared to pay $11.50 for a little plastic container of quinoa salad.
According to Wikipedia, it’s an excellent source of protein, dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. NASA is considering quinoa as a crop for ecologically-sustainable long haul manned space flights. Put quinoa in anything and it sounds healthier. Okay, so there’s quinoa chocolate. I’m looking forward to trying quinoa beer, quinoa wine and quinoa-flavoured coffee.
Is this quinoa fad a world-wide phenomenon? Will it last?