Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Farmers' Market Share Makes Skillet Potatoes, Dreams of Peru

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
With the end of my first semester of grad school nearing, I've started contemplating the joy of winter break -- an entire month of slothfulness, which I haven't experienced in seven years.

The best part of this break is that I'm spending the second half in Peru, scrambling around the Andes with llamas and dining (okay, gorging) on the cuisine of the Incas and the various fusion dishes of the country, like ceviche and chifa. I may even eat the distant cousin of one of my childhood pets.

Who knows? Winter break! WOO!

[Editor's Shameless Plug Note: For more on Peruvian cuisine, check out this week's review of Mango. - Ian]

I was dreaming of the Inca Trail as I sliced up some potatoes on Thanksgiving morning, terrace farms just a glimmer in my eye. I was lucky enough to have scored a good variety of locally grown purple and red Yellow Wood Farm potatoes that were beautiful and vibrant and practically glowed in the morning light. It was majestic, y'all. It got me excited to go to the place where potatoes where born -- where thousands of different varieties are still farmed today. Thousands! And to think, we limit ourselves to Russets and Yukon Golds most days.

The amazing thing about potatoes is how quickly they insinuated themselves into food culture around the world after Machu Picchu fell in 1536. Think about it. Latkes, samosas, gnocchi, knishes, the entire spectrum of British cuisine: All of it happened after some potatoes made it back from the New World. Ireland became completely dependent upon that one little tuber in a little over 300 years.

That's power.

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