Would You Like Fries With That?

Do you like French fries? Or perhaps hash browns? How about baked potatoes? Or potato gratin? Perhaps something more creamy like mashed potatoes? Maybe potato soup, or potato gnocchi pasta? Many dishes from all corners of the world use the potato, but do you know where potatoes originated? That’s right, potatoes come from Peru, and today, May 30th, Peruvians everywhere are celebrating National Potato Day.

Until you get the chance to visit Peru, you will not have seen the thousands of different types of potatoes that are cultivated there. The different sizes, textures, colors, and flavors can almost be compared to grapes used to make wine. Some potatoes are simply boiled and used in Ceviche, or fried for the Lomo Saltado stir fry, while others are dehydrated to be later used in stews. However they are cooked, they are all an integral part of Peruvian cuisine.

Here in San Francisco, I’ve seen a handful of different types at local farmers’ markets — and I get excited whenever I find purple potatoes. It’s been a childhood pleasure of mine to eat a purple potato that has just been cooked. Still hot, and almost burning my fingers, I peel off the skin, slice it and put a dollop of butter on a piece that melts in my mouth. And secretly, I like to test people’s knowledge of the potato, specially when I am eating out with friends and someone orders a potato dish, I can’t help but smile and ask “do you know where potatoes come from?”