INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE POTATO
Some of you may not know that the United Nations declared 2008 as the Inter- national Year of the Potato. Personally, I have to admit I was a little surprised until I found out why. Apparently the intent of the declaration was to raise awareness of the potato as a means to fight existing poverty and hunger throughout the world. It makes sense when you consider that the humble spud ranks as the fourth major food crop in the world after corn, wheat, and rice. Here in the U.S. we are very fortunate to have an abundance of the beloved potato.
Recently, I spoke at the U.S. Potato Board's annual meeting where I met plenty of potato farmers and self professing potato lovers who are simply passionate about the tuber. It was inspiring to be around these folks. It caused me to think about several dinners where potatoes took a starring role when I was at the White House. For example, at the first Bush State Dinner that honored Mexican President Vicente Fox, I created a menu which included ingredients that were mutual to both the U.S. and Mexico. We served pepita-crusted bison with poblano mashed potatoes and fava-chanterelle ragout. The potatoes gave this dish a perfect comfort food profile.
In a house like the White House comfort food was always a welcome guest, especially with the first families. One of Chelsea Clinton's favorite meals was a dish called the potato roesti (originally from Switzerland). For all intents and purposes I would describe it as a 3/4 inch high pancake size tater tot. The potato roesti is easy to make and great anytime of the day or night. Basically, you grate a pound of potatoes (yukon golds are beautiful in this dish) and season it with salt and pepper. Allow the juices to drain and then fry it up pancake style in hot cast iron pan with butter or olive oil until it is golden brown. You can serve your own roesti with poached eggs, a sprinkle of cheese, and fresh herbs.
DAVIS FARMER'S MARKET - PHOTOGRAPH BY KIYOMI