Plants that taste good have legs (and in some cases wings). If they strike our palate’s fancy, the world becomes their oyster (or serving dish as the case my be). The tomato, the anchor of Italian cooking, calls the Andes home. Peanuts, the perfect topper for Phad Thai, plant their roots of origin in South America. Chiles, which fire the cuisines of half the planet, are also a gift from the Americas.
The list is extensive, but perhaps the pole position of most-traveled and beloved plant is the potato. (I never met one I didn’t like.) And recently I discovered one such spud-worthy journey happened in my own backyard: the Makah Ozette potato.
The Makah Ozette potato has been grown for hundreds of years by the Makahs of Neah Bay. (Think Northwest rainforest on steroids.) It’s believed Spanish explorers who had a settlement in the area around 1791, brought the tuber from South America. The potato stayed, the explorers left. (Only one could handle the rain.)
Gracie: “You woke me up to show me potatoes?”
I was eager to try my hand at growing some, but I could never find a seed potato source. Thanks in part to the obsessive-compulsive nature of Northwest foodies and growers, this tater tot is more readily available to plant in your own backyard.
A russet it is not, the wee fingerling is a beautiful little tuber with deep dimples and parchment-paper brown skin. Having never tasted one, I sliced up a couple up for a light saute in olive oil (At $5 pound, a pricey little seed potato side dish.) They were delicious with a nutty, earthy flavor, and relatively dry. I really liked them.
So today, I’ll plant them sometime between the rain showers, a misty reminder that these potatoes will be right at home in my Northwest garden.
Makah Ozette Potatoes
- Seed Sources: Potato Garden, Pure Potato,
- Information: Slow Food USA, Juneau Empire (also grows in rainy SE Alaska), Growing and Eating Specialty Potatoes
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