I’ve been thinking about potatoes
Last week I posted a picture about our ‘American lunch’, hot dog and home made potato chips. My friend and former work colleague, Chef Linda Ruiz, responded with a comment about how nice looking the chips were. (Linda, thanks for reading and commenting) I can only take partial credit. I cooked them, however, I started with very fresh, good quality potatoes. I think that makes all the difference.
A fresh potato, that has not been sitting in storage some where for months, is really a much different product than what many folks get from a super market. That said, mine came from a super market but were grown just up the road in the Casentino area, north of Arezzo, no more than 50 miles from us, if that far. And the sign said ‘New Harvest.’ The variety was not Yukon Gold but they were yellow inside. I think I used to buy the same ones in the states but there the name was Desert Rose, yellow inside, red skin outside. When we first moved here there were about 3 varieties of potatoes in the Esselunga. Now, thank goodness, they have expanded the line and carry a few more. Last Spring I actually got some fingerling potatoes. This season’s tasty, yellow fleshed gems will only be around a few weeks and then that will be it until next year. Just like the big potatoes that I get at my local fruit and veg stand. They are especially good for making French Fries since they are long. Again, you have to walk in to the market in the right week to get them. Part of it might be a supply issue, but I also think that part is that in the Italian mind, some varieties of potatoes are a crop best eaten when they are fresh. There will be other potatoes available, just not this variety.
The best potato I have ever had came from my friend BK’s Momma. She grows them herself in Tennessee. Man, they are good. And I do miss Idaho baking potatoes. We have nothing like that here. I have heard that other parts of Italy have a similar variety, but there again, the supply issue. No one is going to ship them that far.
And then there are sweet potatoes. Ah, yes, the week of Thanksgiving and again the Esselunga has let us down. No sweet potatoes. Well, there were sweet potatoes, but they were the brown skin, white flesh ones. Not right. I just can’t… So I have been down to the Himalaya Market in Arezzo. It is a small market with, Indian, middle Asian and some Asian products. My friend Jules says ‘Oh, they always have sweet potatoes.’ And yes the first time I went in, there they were. I bought 4. All they had. The next week I was there in the morning and the shipment was coming in the afternoon. None. Last week, they had red skinned, white flesh sweet potatoes. Nooooooo. I hope to be able to get back again this week to see if they have any. Red skin, orange flesh. I am a purist.
But I was able to get…
OKRA!!!!!!! Hooray!!!!!! I bought so much I had to freeze part of it. But here it is ready for T’giving when I will stew it with tomatoes. Hmmmmm. Our Canadian guest is gonna love it.