Some girls dream of being princesses. I’ll admit I dabbled in that too. I used to dress up in rummage store gowns and high heels and parade around with my friends through our Seattle neighborhood.
Now, I have earthier dreams, like growing potatoes — lots and lots of potatoes. It’s not just the promise of roasted potatoes with rosemary or Nepali alu ko achar that tickles my imagination. I find the plants, especially the blossoms beautiful, and love how the harvest becomes a treasure hunt to find each nugget nestled in the soil. And I can’t resist how the story of potatoes in general, and each variety in particular, reflects so much about the history of colonialism, globalism, demographics, and culinary arts throughout the world.
I finally have enough room to grow as many kinds of potatoes as I have energy to plant and harvest. This year, in addition to Caribe and Yukon Gold, I’m trying the french fingerling, Princess La Ratte. The blog, Vegetables of Interest, shares some amusing details about this potato’s history, its relations to class divisions in France, and its mysterious role in contemporary gourmet cooking.
I’ve never tasted a Princess La Ratte. I may need to improve my soil for a few years before getting a good harvest. But I’m looking forward to pulling on my ragged jeans this fall and unearthing enough tubers to cook up a dish that will do her justice.