Sunday, 6 May 2018

Ethiquable Chips de Pomme de Terre Rouge Varietes Anciennes du Perou

The Chef and I were having a glass of wine and a cup of coffee at Geneva Airport, or more particularly the railway station, because we had arrived rather early for my flight. And what did I spot   in a display of gluten free products but some crisps made with traditional Peruvian potatoes.

And not just traditional Peruvian potatoes, but potato crisps made in Peru with traditional varieties of potato. Peru, the packet reminds me, is the cradle of the potato, and more than 4,000 cultivated varieties have been recorded.

I read somewhere that the potato plant is very poisonous in its original form. Apparently it’s a bit of a mystery how the early inhabitants of the Andes managed to breed an edible potato that would grow in such an unpromising environment. Much of Peru is very high; it’s very cold, and it’s dry. A far cry from the flat fields of Lincolnshire where so many of England's potatoes are grown.

Not really a story for this blog, but a network of private narrow gage railways was built in Lincolnshire to carry the potato crop to market. Check out the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway near Skegness for more railway fun. The Chef is a mad keen fan of railways in all their forms. He has leaflets on industrial railways and everything. It’s a bit of a surprise I haven’t been dragged off to visit any. Yet.

Ethiquable helps potato farmers continue to use the ancient varieties so they don’t disappear but sadly now only 180 varieties are grown by members of the AGROPIA co-operative. Apparently the local market has no interest in these potatoes which were all eaten by the farmers until a fair trade solution in the form of these crisps allowed them to sell their produce and safeguard the genetic diversity of the local potato varieties.

This is a very old fashioned style of crisp. The Peruvian potatoes give lovely red blotches to the crisps which have a soft crunch. Lightly salted and gently tasty these crisps are made with ethically produced palm oil from Ecuador.

Most of the reluctant taste testers quite liked this Peruvian crisp. Architectural taste tester, who almost never comments, was especially keen. I enjoyed this crisp. Not exciting or fancy but I couldn’t help liking them.

It’s good to support biodiversity, and indigenous peoples growing local products. Although I have to admit that Geneva isn’t very local to Peru, and I don’t know where else to buy this crisp. Lima perhaps?

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