SFH Food 2018-02: The Idaho Potato

Serendipity Farmhouse is a place for recalling, living, and making memories. Each memory has its proper place in our lives. Some are personal and private. Some are filled with sadness. Some, especially those about family and food , are joyous and need to be preserved, shared, and passed on to every generation.

Not surprisingly, our fondest memories of food are shaped by how we were raised and where we have been. My beautiful spouse is a girl raised in the South (GRITS) and yours truly is from the the mid-West. Together, we lived in Japan for over 10 years, in Hawaii for three years, as well as Texas, and California. Our two stays in Virginia amount to over 25 years. And tucked in between those two stays were six years in Idaho. – – Think of all the foods we encountered along the way.

Spud-06
Real Idaho Potatoes

There’s no way we’ll ever be able to talk about every food experience. So, we will have to be selective. Today, we will keep the discussion down to earth. In fact, our discussion will go a little bit deeper as we delve below the surface of things. – – We will talk about Idaho potatoes, real Idaho potatoes.

My Dad was the son of immigrants from the Azores Islands. It’s a little known fact, but potatoes are the third largest crop in the islands and the simple potato holds a place of prominence in Portuguese cuisine. Even though my father eventually went into engineering, he told me on more than one occasion that he had always wanted to have a potato farm in Maine. – – What would my life have been like if Dad had followed that path?

Dad chose his future and I, at an early age, chose mine. Never in my early years had I thought I would live in Idaho, nor did I ever consider researching potatoes. Yet, in 2006, I was drawn there for a short stay and, two years later, my wife and I resided in the foothills of eastern Idaho, overlooking some of the largest potato fields in the world. – – That’s when our Idaho potato education began.

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There’s no need to tell you all we learned during our six potato seasons in Idaho, but there is a lesson learned.

Lesson Learned 04: If you live at SFH, always use Idaho potatoes. Bad things happen to people who would attempt to smuggle in some other kind.

Much of what you need to know about Idaho potatoes can be found on the Idaho Potato Museum website. Let’s just say that there is a great deal of unexpectedly interesting information there. For example, one of the primary manufacturers of potato planting and harvesting equipment is called “Spudnik”.

If you ever make it out to eastern Idaho, make sure you stop in Blackfoot, the “Potato Capitol of the World”. If you check the pictures below very closely, you will find one with your two dedicated bloggers when they made their first pilgrimage to the potato museum.

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Spud-13About now, your interest is beginning to wane. Before I end this, let me just add two more items that go hand-in-hand with potatoes. The first is a unique item, local to Utah and Idaho – “Fry Sauce”. There are disputes about who invented it and when, but Utah seems to be the place and it came into being circa 1948. When you sit down for a hamburger and fries in Idaho, the waiter will always ask, “Catsup or fry sauce?” My advice, go with the fry sauce.

Lesson Learned 05: When in Rome do as … When in Idaho, go with the fry sauce.

Even less widely known is John’s Steak and Seasoning Spice. It can be used on a multitude of items with great satisfaction, including on meat for grilling and, of course, on Idaho spuds in the form of french fries. Whenever I get on the plane bound for Idaho, I have with me orders from family members for John’s Spice. A couple of retail outlets sell it, but John’s Spice is the pride and joy of Pickle’s Place, a “one-of-a-kind” restaurant in Arco, Idaho.

You will learn more about fry sauce and John’s Spice in future posts. So, prepare to take notes, cook the potatoes, and enjoy the flavors.

*Note: Dear Reader, although we have mentioned specific products here, these are not paid advertisements. Likewise, we love the State of Idaho and the potatoes that are grown there, but our discussion is based on entirely on our own personal experiences and preferences.

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