Garnet Chili Potato

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Sepia photo of two garnet chili potatoes

The modern potato, mangled by frying and seed homogeneity, pales in comparison to the rainbow of varieties it once was. Like maize, potatoes originated in South America, specifically Peru, and served as a staple of agriculture and diet there for centuries due to its cultiv-ease, its high protein content and its yum, yum, yum-i-ness. In the mid-1500s, conquistadors from Spain brought the humble potato to Europe where it took root and became an important European, and eventuallyAmerican crop. But disease and blight in Ireland and New England threatened foodsecurity and begged scientists and amateurs alike to solve the problem of theshriveling potato.

The unlikely champion of many modern American potatoes came in the form of anamateur scientist and man of the cloth, Reverend Goodrich. Fascinatingly, thereverend was described by his peers as a man without a "hardy enough constitutionfor eating potatoes", and take that as you will, but this did not stop him frominvesting $200 dollars and 16 years to find a hardy variety that would thrive in NewEngland's growing conditions. By 1853, the Garnet Chili Potato was the winner ofthese experiments due to its hardiness, prolific growth and disease resistance. DNAfingerprinting has shown the Garnet Chili potato to be the mother of no less than150 varieties of potato grown in the 21 st century in America and Europe.

The Garnet Chili Potato prefers cool weather, well draining fertile soil and full sun.Its starchy, earthy character lends it particularly well to potato salads and gratin,making it a perfect choice from a summer barbeque and a fireside winter meal alike.With its flaky pink skin and cream-white middle, it is an attractive option for chefsand home cooks to dazzle their guests with a storied, ancestral, heirloom variety ofpotato unique from the plentiful "Russet".

So why has it fallen out of favor? Proponents of so called "ugly vegetables" will tellyou that its deep eyes which cause shoppers to shy away, are windows into it's adeep and tasty soul. Discarding it for this defect would be like throwing away agood, old book for its creased edges; the old story of the cover belying the wondersinside. Thanks to Goodrich's experiments, the work of finding a hardy variety ofpotato has been done for us, but as of 2016 only one seed supply company inColorado has this particular variety for sale. Find it, grow it and eat it in all seasonsto revive its popularity and demonstrate the beauty beneath the skin!


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